Preston's life was saved by a transplant
Preston was just two years old when he was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia on November 5, 2009. Initially, doctors reassured his parents, Renee and Jacob, that the bruises on his legs and lower back were normal childhood bumps and marks. But when he woke up one morning with his arms purple and bruised, he was rushed to the hospital where the diagnosis was made. For Renee and Jacob, it was devastating. They wondered, “How could this active, happy two-year-old have this horrible disease?”
No one in Preston’s family was a close enough match to donate for the transplant that could save his life. Though they were grateful when a match was found, Renee said, “We were nervous because we were relying on someone we didn’t know to save our son.”
Preston’s transplant took place at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, about six hours away from the family’s home in Saint Amant, LA. He remained in the hospital for seven months, with his parents close by in temporary housing. Renee is thankful for the outpouring of support she received from family, friends, and strangers during this time. She said, “We live in a small town, so word travels fast! Our families put together fundraisers so that I would be able to stay with Preston the entire time without having to worry about anything else. People sent Preston packages, which he loved, and we always had a ton of prayers.”
Even with all of the support and good wishes they received, Preston’s recovery was difficult, with fever, liver problems, and graft vs. host disease. But the family remained strong and happy as they started a new chapter in his life.
Today, thanks to his donor, Preston is healthy and active - he loves baseball, soccer, and superheroes. He also spends a lot of time playing with his baby brother, Jude. Renee said, “Words will never be able to express how grateful we are to his Preston’s donor. We call her his angel on earth. She unselfishly gave bone marrow to a little boy she knew nothing about. She saved our son’s life and has been a part of our family since September 29, 2010, the day of his transplant.
The family had the wonderful experience of meeting Preston’s donor, Jennifer, at Gift of Life’s first annual New York Walk for Life on October 13, 2013, at Long Island’s Eisenhower Park. Renee said, “The millions of people around the world who have volunteered to donate are heroes, and this opportunity to meet Jennifer is a dream come true!” She added, “To all of the donors, volunteers, supporters, friends, and loved ones who make Gift of Life’s work possible, we want to say thank you. Without Gift of Life, we would not have our son.”
Renee explained, “Since the transplant, we have learned to cherish every possible moment because you never know when or if something may happen. Preston has been given a second chance at life and we plan to let him live it fully!”