Science and medical advancements in pediatric care is an amazing sight to witness. This week we had the pleasure of watching a toddler in Ohio move mountains thanks to his parents, doctors, and therapists. Earlier this week a 2-year-old Ohio boy reached a massive milestone by walking for the first time. Jackson (JackJack) France was born in 2016. He spent the first 14 months of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. At 10.5 months old, doctors amputated his left leg from the knee down. After more than a year of therapy, Jackson walked for the first time with his prosthetic leg.
We spoke with Jackson’s mom, Monica, about his journey. When Monica was 19 weeks pregnant, she learned that Jackson had spinal and leg abnormalities. Doctors performed multiple tests to rule out specific disorders.
Jackson also had a fetal echocardiogram and an MRI. Doctors determined Jackson’s heart had multiple abnormalities. Monica learned Jackson’s heart would need monitoring following his birth to determine the next steps.
At 34-weeks pregnant Monica started retaining too much fluid, and doctors needed to remove fluid from her uterus. During the procedure, her water broke. Jackson’s heart plummetted following the abruption, and doctor’s rushed her in for an emergency c-section.
Monica saw Jackson for only one minute following his birth. Doctor’s immediately transferred him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
The first few months of Jackson’s life were complicated. Jackson struggled to breathe on his own. Doctors diagnosed him with a floppy airway. At 3-months old, doctors placed a tracheostomy to help Jackson breathe.
During the same time, Monica and her husband Jayson, worked with doctors determine how to proceed with Jackson’s abnormal leg. Jackson’s left leg was shorter than his right leg. He received a diagnosis of tibial hemimelia.
To correct the leg, doctors told Monica and Jayson that Jackson could undergo leg lengthening surgery or amputation. The leg-lengthening surgery required multiple surgeries. Following the procedures, the left leg would not be functional. After discussing their options, Monica and Jayson decided to amputate Jackson’s leg.
At 10.5 months old, surgeons repaired Jackson’s hips, removed his left leg from the knee down, and removed the sixth toe from his right foot.
For the first few months following the amputation, doctors worried that Jackson’s femur might not grow. However, six months after his surgery, an x-ray confirmed the proper growth of the femur.
Monica and Jayson were elated receiving this news. After the x-ray, Jackson started working with sports medicine doctors and therapists to fit him for a prosthetic leg.
Jackson received his first leg in winter 2018. Throughout the year, therapists worked with Jackson on strength building exercises. He learned to stand, cruise, and move with the leg.
Earlier this month, Jackson outgrew his first prosthetic leg. After fitting him for a new leg, therapists started working with Jackson on walking. This week his therapist gave Jackson a walker to try walking. Jackson’s physical therapist helped Jackson learn to move his legs separately. On his second try walking, Jackson took off by himself.
“Seeing him walk on his own was an absolute joy. In the video, if you listen, you can hear me crying. All the fear and uncertainty of what could Jack do seemed to melt away at that moment. And like his shirt says, I knew right then that he could and will move mountains.”
We agree, Monica, Jackson can and will move mountains. Watch Jackson’s first steps below:
Follow Jackson’s journey on Facebook.
Consider helping the family for Jackson’s upcoming surgeries here.
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