Justin’s journey began at the age of 3. He was diagnosed with Leukemia at 3, 7 and 11. Throughout this time, Justin was a inspiration to us all as he didn’t let this rule his life. He continuned to be a kid--enjoying going to school and playing little league baseball. After the 3rd Leukemia diagnosis, he had a cord blood (bone marrow) transplant. It was during this extended hospitalization he discovered his love of food and the desire to be a chef. Due to complications from that transplant, his kidneys just gave out and failed. In 2005, Justin had a kidney transplant. The kidney was generously donated from his Aunt Haley. That transplant went well and Justin was soon able to get back to his life. He finished high school with his main focus on his culinary training. He attended Arizona Culinary Instistute and started his career at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak. In 2013, his kidney failed, therfore requiring another kidney transplant. Due to complications throughout the years, Justin also started having liver issues. The Drs would not do the second kidney transplant without also doing a liver transplant. Because it takes so long to get a liver transplant in AZ, his Drs encouraged him to look to another region to hopefully be transplanted earlier than he would be in AZ. Justin’s research brought him to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. After just over a year of testing and 2 visits to Vanderbilt University, Justin received a call that he was finally listed and he was #11 on the list so we needed to start working on getting to Nashville to be close in case a liver and kidney became available for him. We arrived in Nashville on October 15 and Justin’s medical teams expected him to have his transplants by Thanksgiving. Due to Justin being advanced in his kidney and liver failure, he continued to have complications that kept him from being able to be transplanted. Finally, on April 14, Good Friday, Justin received a call that there were good strong organs available for him. He had his liver transplant on April 14 and his kidney transplant on April 15. Again, Justin has experienced many, many complications and now almost 6 weeks later, he is still in the hospital. Because he has been bed ridden so long, when he is discharged from the hospital he will be going to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for extensive physical and occupational therapy.
What you have read is Justin's story as told by his Mom. Now we would like to give you a little more.
Justin is an incredible young man that wants simple things, he wants to get well enough to get back to work and live a fulfilling life. He isn't bitter about the hand he has been dealt.
When Justin got the call that organs were available, he was told by many that we were praying for him. His response to us was, please pray for the donors family. This tells you so much about what kind of a person Justin is. It has weighed heavily on him knowing what would have to happen for him to get the gift of life.
We are sharing Justin's story and asking for people to join his team. His medical and family's living and travel expenses continue to grow, and when he gets back on his feet he will need to replace the truck he sold when heading off for Nashville.
There is so much to this story. Justin, once fully recovered months from now, will need to return to Nashville at least a couple times a year for follow up, likely for the rest of his life, he will need expensive anti rejection meds and Justin will turn 26 in December and won't be able to stay on his Dad's employers insurance. Then, in a perfect setting his kidney will last him about 18 years, so he will need to go through a part of this again.
Justin continues to battle, to rally back with his no quit attitude, the tremendous care from all the teams at Vanderbilt, and love and prayers. Please join us and help him out.
- Brian and Kaylee Barton
- Coby Cox
- Howard Pierceall
- Kristi Carpenter
Organizer and beneficiary
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