On June 4th 2016 it was 94 degrees in Jacksonville, Florida where Jack and his family were starting another summer. It was just another Saturday and he was just a normal, healthy 3-year-old. “He was riding his bike so fast,” his father, Dan, told Jacksonville.com. It’s the day before everything changed, and it will live on in his parents’ memories forever.
The next day Jack was sick, by Monday he was hospitalized and had stopped breathing. He was given last rites, but he survived. Weeks later Jack was still alive and his doctors finally had a name for his condition, Acute Flaccid Myelitis.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), as of last winter, 138 patients were diagnosed with AFM in 37 states – most of them children. The condition affects the nervous system, usually impacting the spinal cord the hardest. According to the CDC its cause has yet to be determined, but viral infections could be a contributing factor. AFM signs and symptoms include a sudden onset of limb weakness, often accompanied by cranial nerve dysfunction (including facial drooping or difficulty speaking). The condition may occur after your child has an everyday flu or viral infection.
For months, Jack couldn’t speak or move and required a ventilator for breathing. He was at the Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville for two months. Then he received treatment from a specialist in spinal cord conditions for four months at the Kennedy Krieger Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore before returning to Wolfson.
Jack’s doctors recommended him starting therapy as soon as possible, and since then, Jack has worked with physical, occupational and speech therapists as well as weekly in-home therapists. His progress has been incredible.
His physicians are preparing to wean Jack off the ventilator and help him breathe on his own. Just this past weekend after having a diaphragmatic pacer placement to help reduce the need for the ventilator, Jack was transported via air ambulance back to the Kennedy Krieger Institute. He will be weaning off the ventilator and taking the next steps in his recovery there.
Our medical flight crew members at Angel MedFlight wanted to rally this tiny hero with an official flight badge for his travels and a buddy to accompany him on his latest flight.
Jack’s family and our crew members wanted to take you along for the ride with some photos:
From left to right: Flight Nurse (John Moyer and Certified Flight Paramedic (FP-C), Jared Roorda smile with Jack.
Jack’s official flight badge and an extra pilot for him to hold onto during his flight.
A photo of Jack in his shades with Flight Paramedic, Jared on the runway, posing in front of a U.S. Air Force rescue aircraft.
Track Jack’s Progress
Want to follow Jack’s progress? Like Jack’s Journey page on Facebook to receive regular updates and cheer Jack and the rest of his family on and learn how you can support them.