The unknowns in life can be scary and unpredictable, especially when it comes to a child’s health. But Jackson and his family have turned unknowns into perseverance and a new way of life.
At 2 years old, Jackson sustained a severe traumatic brain injury. As a result, he underwent an emergency craniotomy surgery, requiring doctors to remove part of his skull. It was uncertain if Jackson would ever be able to walk, talk or breathe on his own.
“Jackson’s injury changed everything for us,” said Jackson’s mom, Tina.
Jackson was brought to Children’s Hospital Colorado in a flight for life helicopter for care after his initial surgery. Since that time, over the course of the last eight years, he has undergone many other surgeries, and his parents have faced many difficult decisions.
In 2011, Children’s Colorado surgeons performed a left functional hemispherectomy on Jackson, disconnecting the left and right sides of his brain. Tina and Jackson’s dad, Eric, knew this surgery would provide Jackson with a better quality of life and help eliminate the 75 plus seizures he was suffering from every day.
After Jackson’s hemispherectomy, he once again spent time recovering and relearning skills at the Children’s Colorado rehabilitation department. Tina mentioned how fragile Jackson looked after his surgery and, as a parent, she simply wanted to protect him. In Jackson’s case, challenging him to get better was imperative.
“Jackson’s nurse, Chip, helped us realize what his potential was. He helped explain that pushing is part of his healing,” said Tina.
When Jackson wasn’t working with his therapists and caregivers, he kept himself busy around the hospital. He could often be found throwing around a football and making trips to the nurses’ station to hang out with his favorite nurses. However, one activity trumped everything for Jackson: visiting the ball machine in the Boettcher Atrium.
Despite keeping himself entertained, Jackson said it was difficult to be away from home, especially being away from his brother, Brendan. However, with a lot of determination and hard work, Jackson was finally able to go home to spend quality time with his family.
“If you were to see Jackson's medical history on paper and then see him in-person, you wouldn't believe he is the same kid,” said Tina. “He continues to make improvements daily and that is in large part due to our medical team at Children's Colorado.”
Jackson now relies solely on the right side of his brain when performing daily functions. Despite having to relearn many basic skills, he has soared beyond everyone’s expectations.
Today, at 11 years old, he is seizure-free and continues to courageously participate in therapy at Children’s Colorado in Colorado Springs and make visits every few months to Children’s Colorado in Aurora. Jackson is able to walk and talk on his own and is a huge sports fan. He is on a baseball team and soccer team and enjoys throwing a football around with his brother.
“He is a ball of energy, smart and very funny. He’s also probably one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet,” said Tina.
Jackson says: “Courage is being brave and hard working.” He exudes that every day.