When this global pandemic first made the news in early Spring 2020, a short quarantine seemed disruptive but reasonable. Doable, even. As those weeks extended and life as we knew it seemed a distant thing of the past, staying home felt less like a reprieve and more like a punishment.
Through that time, we all caught a small glimmer of what life can be like with a rare medical diagnosis. For LaZion and his family, the last year has been more or less business as usual. Isolation? They’ve been there. Cabin fever? You bet. LaZion is almost three years old, and he’s spent more than half of his life either confined to the hospital or stuck at home. All he knows are walls.
It all started when Trista was just 25 weeks pregnant. As she was walking back home from the mailbox, she slipped and fell into the snow. Not long after, she realized her water had broken and she was losing amniotic fluid.
Almost immediately after she arrived at the hospital, doctors confirmed that she needed to go on bed rest. They also knew she needed to be transferred to a larger hospital that was better equipped to handle the potential complications of a pregnancy at 25 weeks. She was sent to Saginaw, Michigan — more than an hour drive from her home.
“It was scary to be there and to be all alone,” she said, “We didn’t have a vehicle of our own, so there was no one to come visit me so far away. I spent most of the time in the hospital alone, but we did a lot of video chats and phone calls. My partner Lashawn even taught our 8-month-old son Dayshawn how to walk. I was so happy, but cried at the same time...it was awesome, but it was happening without me.”
For Trista, all she could think about was life outside those walls.
Then, a little over five weeks after she arrived, Trista’s bedrest came to an abrupt halt. When the nurses checked her baby’s heart rate at 5am, everything looked normal. When they came back at 9am, the mood in the room shifted.
“They immediately got the doctor,” Trista said quietly. “His heart rate had dropped to the 40s and nothing worked to get it back up again.”
For that four-hour period between heart rate checks, the medical team had no idea what happened or how long the baby was in distress. Trista was rushed to the operating room for an emergency c-section. Four more walls she never expected to see.
On April 24, 2018, LaZion was born weighing 2 lbs, 15 oz. He had suffered a cord prolapse, which nearly took his life, and he couldn’t eat or breathe on his own. But this baby was here and he was alive — their son.
“Over the next three months, I got to watch my son come to life,” Trista tearfully explained. “When he was one month old, he opened his eyes for the first time and just looked at me. I loved looking at those eyes. He continued growing and showing me that he was in there and that he could make it.”
LaZion was later transferred to a different hospital in Ann Arbor, four new walls around him, and finally met his big brother Dayshawn for the first time.
“We were so excited that we got our first little family picture together,” said Trista. “I was so happy!”
Despite all of the challenges, despite his immense level of care, they would stay happy. LaZion would eventually make it home, then return to the hospital, then be sent back home again, then return to the hospital...you get the idea. But he was here and he was alive - their son.
Later, LaZion was diagnosed with West Syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Dyskinetic Cerebral Palsy, and a myriad of other conditions. He has been through a lot in his short three years of life, but he’s also given a lot, too. LaZion loves the Bubble Guppies, snuggling with his mom, and filling the room with the brightest smile.
Time and time again, he’s proven that he’s an underdog with a fighting spirit. And if you’ve learned anything from our Chive Charities recipients by now, it’s never underestimate the underdogs.
The hard truth is that LaZion has spent almost half of his life in the hospital. The other half has been spent inside his home.
“I want him to experience all the things life has to offer him,” Trista explained. “There are so many things that we would like to do for LaZion, and for our other kids who are affected by his limitations, too.”
It might be true that there’s no place like home. It’s just that for LaZion and his family, there’s no place but home.
Currently, the family does not have a safe and reliable vehicle, let alone a wheelchair-accessible van for their youngest son. With Dayshawn only 10 months older than LaZion, it’s nearly impossible to get both boys out of the house together. Factor in all of his necessary medical equipment, the logistics of leaving the house with two toddlers (including one that’s medically fragile), and the lack of transportation and you have everything you need to stay inside for months at a time.
Your donations helped change that.
Soon, LaZion and his family will receive a 2019 Dodge Caravan from our friends at AMS Vans for a total impact of $41,335.
Soon, they’ll be handed the keys to their ticket to freedom.
From the walls of his hospital rooms to the walls of his home, LaZion’s journey has not been an easy one. He deserves the chance to feel the sunshine on his face. He deserves the chance to go to the park with his brother. He deserves to visit his family, go to the grocery store, drive around and listen to his Bubble Guppies. LaZion deserves to live the life he’s fought so hard to have.
The global pandemic taught us a lot. We learned about isolation and cabin fever and a desire for normalcy, and we learned a little more about what it must be like for families who experience those feelings more often than not. We also learned that our community of supporters is a lot like the underdogs they support — you can never be underestimated.
During an unprecedented time, our donor family continually stepped up to serve our rare medical, veteran, and first responder recipients. Those one-time and monthly donations from as little as $5 to $200+ added up to life-changing impact for 60 recipients in 2020 alone.
For LaZion, those donations broke down the walls around him and opened up a whole new world. That seems hard to beat. But like the underdogs we serve, we’ll never stop fighting to make the world 10% happier. We just have one question...Are you with us? DONATE HERE.