Mulligan on Life
In the game of golf, a mulligan happens when a player gets a second chance to perform a certain move or action. A mulligan in life, getting a second chance at life, is something six year old Jackson Heller knows all about.
And Jackson and his family are anxious to show the world what the miracle of life – the gift of a second chance at life for an organ recipient – can look like. And how a resource such as the Family House is critically needed in Philadelphia.
Born with a Rare Liver Disease
Jackson was born with a rare liver disease, biliary atresia. After a seemingly never-ending cycle of doctors, hospitals, blood transfusions, and procedures, Jackson was admitted to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in December, 2003, where he received a new liver from a generous family whose one-year old child had died. Unfortunately, a blood clot damaged Jackson’s new liver and another transplant was required.
While Jackson was hospitalized in Philadelphia, the Heller family – parents Gregg and Gabi, and older sister, Morgan – continually made the three-hour trip back and forth between Philadelphia and upstate New Jersey over a six month period. Daily trips to and from the hospital, taking turns sitting at the bedside but unable to hold their baby, and the overwhelming deluge of medical terms and information, all took their toll on the Heller's.
The Family House will provide such a supportive environment focused on the needs of organ recipients and their families. -- Gregg Heller
A second “angel” appeared, and a second liver transplant gave Jackson yet another chance at life. Now, more than eight years later, Jackson is enjoying a normal life. He just attended the 2008 Transplant Games representing Team Philadelphia and was able to participate in the softball toss and the 50 meter dash. Jackson is currently finishing his year in fourth grade and loves playing sports and spending time with his brothers and sister.
Understanding the Need for Family House
The Hellers truly understand how blessed they are and how the Gift of Life Family House could have provided additional support for them during this stressful time. “We were able to stay at a Ronald McDonald House in the area so we know what a great support that is but being with transplant families going through the unique transplant experience would have been extremely helpful! Our needs were very specific – how to manage his medication, making sure he wasn’t exposed to anything that could set his treatment back. The Family House will provide such a supportive environment focused on the needs of organ recipients and their families. From parents to siblings!”
For the past eight years, Gregg’s employer, Hennion & Walsh, has sponsored a golf outing – Jackson’s Annual Mulligan on Life Golf Outing - to raise money and awareness for organ donation. This year’s proceeds are benefiting the Gift of Life Family House. Read related story.
“Every time we look at Jackson, we are reminded that we owe his donors and their families such a debt of gratitude for their unselfish gifts. Jackson’s life has been transformed into a happy and healthy child and we want to give back so that other families can have this same experience.”
From a Waiting Room to a Warm Room Waiting..
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