Shortly after Jake had finished a college certificate program and had achieved his phlebotomy certificate. He just recently (less than a month ago!) happily started a new job in the medical field, using his new degree. Prior to this Jake had worked as a warehouse/stocker for Target. Paige just recently was moved to training for a team lead position at her job as a eyewear associate at Lenscrafters. Although neither Paige nor Jake has a college degree their incredible work ethics were seeming to finally see some reward. In November they learned that Paige was pregnant with their first child. Their baby is due July 1st. With Jake's new job and Paige's raise they started to look for their first home. And then it happened...
No one ever expects a common cold to turn deadly, but it did. Jake had been experiencing a cold for a few days, complaining of a sinus headache and congestion. He told Paige he was going to hop in the shower to try and relieve it with some steam. He told Paige he just did not feel right and would she sit in the bathroom with him while he showered. Within minutes of entering the shower, he collapsed against the shower wall. Paige opened the curtain, frantically called his name and watched his eyes roll back into his head. She immediately stepped into the tub/shower combo and got Jake flat on his back to start CPR. Paige called 911 and calmly gave them her address. They stayed on the phone on speaker while she continued chest compressions until the police arrived to take over, then the fire department EMTs arrived to take over for the police officer. Paige said she was terrified as she felt Jake growing cold beneath her hands while she performed CPR.
While in the apartment, the EMTs worked on him for over 40 minutes. He went 45 minutes without a pulse. The EMT's intubated him on the bathroom floor in an attempt to keep oxygen flowing to the brain. After shocking him multiple times with no response they drove him to the hospital in the ambulance to have the attending physician call the time of death. But the EMT would not give up on Jake- he continued compressions until they pulled into the hospital and then with excitement and disbelief reported a heart beat.
Paige Was Told To Expect The Worst
Jake's cold, the rhinovirus, attacked his heart. For 3 days we prayed. Our families, friends, strangers, churches, synagogues, temples, spiritual groups, and mosques prayed for him. The ICU staff prepped the family to be able to make the decision to determine a DNR order. We were told a 5% chance of survival. While the family held vigil and were preparing for the worst Paige just kept saying, "He's Going to Make It, I Can Feel It". The ICU staff put Jake in a medically induced coma. Already intubated he was put on a ventilator to breathe for him. They put him in hypothermia cooling his body to slow his heart and brain. We were told the brain damage could be severe. He had been dead for 45 minutes. At one point the doctors were concerned about Jake going into organ failure and levophed was given to force the blood to the central organs. Everyone just prayed harder.
As the days clicked by with no pain response and "posturing" (a sign of brain damage) the team slowly warmed his body and took him out of the medically induced coma. His heart kept beating, his blood pressure began to rise to normal. It was a miracle but again we were told about brain damage. He kept fighting the ventilator trying to breathe over it and push it out with his tongue. The next morning, as ICU staff removed the tube, the entire ICU team was outside his room in disbelief. We all watched and once extubated he spoke, he asked for Paige. Their was a collective cheer of awe and gratitude and tears flowed. It was a miracle- a rare happening in the ICU, and just as rare as what happened an unbelievable rarity for someone gone for 45 minutes, to wake up and speak. The next thing he said was "There are too many people in this room" and then "I'm hungry."
The Future & Ongoing Needs
No one expects the New Year to start this way. No young couple expects the first year of their marriage to be filled with extensive medical care. No first-time mom expects to be facing the possibility of a pregnancy and newborn as a widow. But the love these two share continues to see them through. While the prognosis for the 25-year old Jake looks promising, he most likely will need a pacemaker, they will face months of recovery before Jake can return to work. His attending physician told us that it would take about one year before we could anticipate full brain function again. The extent of the brain damage can only be determined after one year. This family's upcoming and changing needs (remember there is a baby coming this summer) cannot be determined today. They have made it this far with prayer and incredible support from friends and family; but we all know that love and good intentions are only the beginning of the help this young couple will need.
While the gratitude for support, meals, time spent just sitting with us in the ICU cannot be overstated, this young couple will continue to require funds to support Jake's ongoing medical and rehabilitation costs. In addition, it will be months until Jake will be able to return to work, and to what capacity remains unknown as his brain heals. A donation is a great way for family and friends, especially those not in St Louis, to help. People ask us What Can We Do? This anyone can do with as little as $5. While gift cards are greatly appreciated they just do not allow for the flexibility they will need as their needs change. If you want to start your New Year with an intention to improve the lives of those who really could use help, this is a great way to do it.
In Paige's Words
"I found the love of my life in Jake. We were so looking forward to our first year as a married couple and as parents. I cannot believe how everything, all our hopes and dreams can change in a second. I feel very uncertain being a new mom, living paycheck to paycheck, without knowing when Jake will be well enough again to fully engage in life and work, but I know I am strong and Jake is too. We just need our community's support."
From the Kennedy and Anderson families- we cannot thank everyone enough for the outpouring of love and support. As the family of these two very special young people we are giving all we can, please consider helping. $5 donations add up when people come together. We pray as many of you who can, will help.