LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 16, 2004) -- Jason Morgan, 17, son of Billy and Jolene Morgan, of London, will be featured as a “champion” during the 2004 Children’s Miracle Network Celebration June 18 and 19.
One Sunday in October 2003, Jason returned home after dropping off a friend who had spent the night at his house and told his mother he wasn't feeling well. He was in pain and said he was freezing. His mom thought he was probably coming down with the flu.
The next day, Jason decided to stay home from school. His mother lay next to him and saw bruises on his shoulder. She assumed he had been wrestling, but Jason promised he had not.
“I immediately thought of leukemia,” she said.
Jason was taken to the doctor where he was not diagnosed with leukemia, but with something just as threatening – meningococcemia, a bacterial infection of the bloodstream that leads to shock and often death. The following 12 hours of his life would be critical, his doctor said.
Jason immediately was flown to the University of Kentucky Children’s Hospital.
“We got to UK and he was still conscious,” his mother said. “He hollered and asked me to hold him.”
Jason’s mother was holding him when he lost consciousness.
“The form of the infection Jason had causes blood to leak out of the vessels,” said pediatric infectious disease specialist Chris Nelson, M.D., associate professor of
pediatrics, UK College of Medicine. “For the first four to five days, Jason had low blood pressure and most of his problems sprung from that. Blood flow was comprised to his extremities and liver and kidney. We did not know if he would make it.”
What Jason’s family thought would be a few days at UK ended up being 79 days. All of the places on Jason’s skin that had looked like bruises eventually turned into sores. He was treated like a burn patient. He had skin grafts on most of his body from the waist down. Jason had to be scrubbed down and wrapped twice a day.
“He wanted to come home so bad,” his mother said. “They asked him to make a wish, and all he could say was that he wished he could go home.”
On Christmas Day, that wish partly was granted. Arrangements were made for Rural Metro ambulance service to take him home to Laurel County for Christmas Day. That evening, he returned to UK Children’s Hospital for nearly three more weeks of care before going home to stay on January 13.
“We knew it would be important to Jason’s recovery to get him home for Christmas Day,” said Carol Steltenkamp, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, UK College of Medicine.
During Jason’s hospital stay, his mother went home only three times and his father made the one and a half hour drive to visit him every day after work.
Although Jason missed most of his senior year at Laurel County High School, he was able to graduate with his class by working with the UK Children’s Hospital schoolteacher. When someone suggested pushing him in a wheelchair during the ceremony, Jason would not consider it.
“I will walk,” he told his mother.
And he did.
Jason continues to recover. In April, he was able to drive his manual truck, something he had missed a great deal. He also loves to play basketball.
“He has gone and shot a time or two and he'll say, ’It won’t be long. I'm not able to run real fast, but I'll learn,’” his mother said.
After returning home, Jason eventually lost all of his toes. However, it has not had a great deal of effect on his ability to walk. Once he has recovered fully he wants to go to a technical college to become an automotive technician in advanced technology.
“Jason was quite ill and he fought a long road to recovery. He defied death here and is a true miracle story,” Steltenkamp said.
Jason and other children will be recognized as “champions” during the Children’s Miracle Network Celebration, which will be broadcast June 18 and 19 from Applebee’s Park in Lexington on WKYT-TV, channel 27 (Lexington), and WYMT-TV, channel 57 (Hazard). Co-hosts are Barbara Bailey and Bill Bryant of WKYT-TV, and Stacy McCloud of WYMT-TV.
During the broadcast, the program will feature and celebrate the triumphs of UK’s young patients and the health issues they are facing. The annual program will not only recognize the children as champions, but also the many people who champion children, such as families, health professionals, individuals, volunteers and donors.
The Celebration will be broadcast from 8 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 18, and from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 19.
During televised hours of the celebration, call toll-free (877) 862-5444 to make a donation. To make a donation before or after the Celebration is broadcast, or to receive more information about the Children’s Miracle Network, call (859) 257-1121.