Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baby Jordan was in the Hays Daily News

From the Hays Daily News

Tragedy leads parents to lend help to others


Michael and Brandi LaFond experienced tragedy last fall when their infant son, Jordan, died.

But they didn't let it drag them down.

Instead, the LaFonds said the incident strengthened their family and faith. They found hope and a way to find a silver lining to the situation. Because of that, the LaFonds are partnering with the American Red Cross to have a blood drive in memory of Jordan from Tuesday through Friday at the Red Cross blood donor center, 208 E. Eighth.

"You think everything has to work out to have hope in something," Michael said. "We really learned by going through this that's not the case."

Michael & Brandi LaFond. Picture taken by Raymond Hillegas ~ Hays Daily News.

Jordan was diagnosed with a birth defect known as congenital diaphragmatic hernia on June 1 while they were getting a routine sonogram. CDH is a rare condition where a baby is born without a diaphragm, causing the rest of the organs to push against the heart and lungs, which can lead to a child's death.

Brandi was 20 weeks pregnant at the time, and they were expecting to see the baby for the first time and learn the sex of their child. They weren't expecting that news.

"We were shocked," Michael said.

At first, they thought it might have been a mistake, but after getting a second opinion, they knew it was true. They immediately got to work, researching the condition and finding hospitals that are the best at treating the condition. Though they considered a hospital in Kansas City because it was starting up a CDH unit, they instead chose Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, because of its doctors' extensive experience with the ailment.

"We tried everything we could to give him the best shot we could," Michael said.

They lived in Philadelphia with a host family from Aug. 18 until Oct. 18, when Jordan was delivered, and from Oct. 20 until late November at the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House. Though it didn't work out, Brandi said she appreciated the extensive help everyone provided while they were there.

"Our host family was very giving," Brandi said. "When my parents came up to visit us, they lent them their own car and allowed them to stay there, too."

After Jordan's birth, he was moved from a ventilator to an oscillator and then to a machine that works for the heart and lungs.

"It was so hard to see my baby hooked up to all of those machines," Brandi said.

Because of his lack of a diaphragm, Jordan's liver grew and pushed on his heart and lungs.

"Infants (with CDH) who don't have their liver up have a 90-percent chance of survival," Brandi said. "With the liver being up, it pushes it way below 50 percent."

To correct this, surgeons put an artificial diaphragm from rib to rib and moved the organs back to their proper places. Michael said the experience was draining.

"I've never been involved in anything my whole life where in one day, you can go from extreme everything is falling apart to everything is OK," he said.

However, the damage to the heart was too much, and he died of pulmonary hypertension.

"(With pulmonary hypertension) the blood pressure in the pulmonary vessels is really high," Brandi said. "It puts pressure on them, so the right side of the heart works harder. Eventually, the right side of the heart gives out, because it is working too hard to pump the blood through the pulmonary vessels."

Jordan died Nov. 21 at 34 days old.

"The amazing staff at CHOP gave Jordan a chance at life, and it gave my 3-year-old son Caleb a chance to say 'goodbye,' " Brandi said. "We are thankful for everyone who tried to help Jordan survive."

Helping Red Cross

During his short life, Jordan needed 5,440 milliliters of packed red cells, 829 milliliters of platelets and 1,840 milliliters of frozen plasma. Brandi said it made her learn firsthand the importance of the American Red Cross.

"With Jordan being on ECMO and getting multiple blood transfusions, we just realized how important giving blood is," she said.

Because of that, Brandi reached out to the American Red Cross in Hays about having a memorial blood drive for Jordan. They made it so it would coincide with CDH Awareness Day on Saturday. Catherine Younger, an American Red Cross donor recruitment representative, said her organization was happy to work with the LaFonds on the event.

"Any time you can put a face with the need, it kind of hits the heart a little bit," Younger said.

Donors can make an appointment by calling (800) RED-CROSS, but walk-ins also are welcome.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Blood Drive in Memory of Jordan

Passion is often ignited by an encounter or an experience with a personal, life altering event. We had never heard of CDH until June 1, 2011. Now, it has forever changed our lives. There is no known cause for it. There is no known cure for it. There is little research for it. There is little awareness about it. Yet, about 1 in every 2,500 infants are diagnosed with it. Of those diagnosed, 50% do not survive. Breath of Hope Inc., an organization created to bring more awareness to CDH, has proclaimed March 31st to be CDH Awareness Day.

In the spirit of bringing awareness to the community of Hays, yet realizing not everyone will have a passion for nor an encounter with CDH in their lifetime, we have decided to host a Center Blood Drive in memory of Jordan. Every two seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion - a victim of CDH or not. But, only a fraction of the population actually donates blood. Giving blood saves lives. One person donating blood can save up to three people. We never understood ourselves the importance of donating blood nor the significant role that the Red Cross plays in facilitating the provision of blood to those who need it until Jordan’s life hung in the balance. The twenty-six days that Jordan was on ECMO, he was given multiple blood transfusions daily. Without blood donors, our 34 days with him would have been drastically shorter. The need for blood is great; the children’s hospital where Jordan lived his 34 days ran out of blood and the Red Cross had to make a special delivery. Please join us in a blood drive to help promote CDH awareness and to aid those in need of blood. For your convenience, appointments can be made in advance by calling (785) 625-2617.

If you don’t live in the Hays area, you can participate by visiting your local Red Cross and give blood in honor of CDH Awareness, Jordan, or a friend or family member who needed blood in the past or who will need it in the future. If you plan on giving blood and this is your first time to donate, please visit the following link concerning facts about blood donation, increasing your iron count when you donate blood and blood donation eligibility questions (click here to visit the Red Cross). If you have any more questions about donating blood after reading the information from their site, please call the Red Cross directly at 1-866-236-3276.

Below are some interesting facts from the American Red Cross:

  • On any given day, 38,000 units of red blood cells are needed for hospital patients in the United States.
  • One in every 10 people entering a hospital will need blood.
  • Approximately 38% of the population is eligible to donate blood. Of those eligible to donate blood, only a small fraction have actually given blood.
  • In the U.S., someone needs a blood transfusion about every two seconds.
  • The average adult body contains 10-12 pints of blood. A newborn baby has about one cup of blood in his/her body.
  • There are about one billion red blood cells in two or three drops of blood.
  • Red blood cells must be transfused within 42 days.
  • There is no substitute for human blood. It cannot be manufactured.
  • Almost everyone will know someone who needs blood.
  • Blood is often needed for traumas, heart surgeries, joint replacements, organ transplants, premature babies, leukemia and cancer treatments, and much more.
  • People in car accidents who suffer massive blood loss may require transfusions of more than 50 pints of red blood cells.

If you would like to give monetary donations to the Red Cross or organizations that promote CDH, please visit the following websites: