This GoFundMe is an opportunity to help a very loved young family meet the mounting expenses accumulated from a difficult and challenging year as well as upcoming costs and hospital stays necessary in the months ahead.
One year ago, on August 8th, 2016 baby Zion entered this world weighing only 620 ounces (1.37 lbs).
Just 10 months earlier Zion's parents Josh and Chelsea moved to Steinbach, Manitoba from Vancouver, BC to begin their new journey of building a life and family together.
What seemed to be a smooth sailing pregnancy for Chelsea, suddenly changed at just 22 weeks' gestation (normal gestation is 40 weeks). Chelsea began to experience complications and was rushed by ambulance to the hospital as Zion's feet were already on their way out. After six days of bed rest, doctors realized they were unable to prolong the pregnancy and at just 24 weeks, 1 day baby Zion Joshua Watkins was born .
Zion's First Year of Life
What began for Zion was a long, trying year of medical complications and near death moments with an almost overwhelming number of procedures including:
*Emergency surgery for his intestinal tract
*Eye injections, laser eye surgery
*A surgical central line in his upper thigh
*Dozens of blood transfusions (incl. 20 in one week)
*Countless MRI's, ECG tests, X-rays and ultrasounds
*Barium enemas & swallows
*General anesthetic twice for PICC lines
*A near amputation
*A spinal tap
*Antibiotics and medications
Zion's tiny body was intubated for three months and was on CPAP for just over a month. While intubated he would have regular lung collapses and was resuscitated multiple times. He had sepsis and blood poisoning on four occasions along with a perforated bowel and currently requires an ostomy bag until his body is strong enough for the procedure to reconnect his digestive tract. In addition, he continues to have adrenal suppression for his cortisol hormone.
As a micro-preemie baby, Zion had to stay in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for his first five months requiring Josh and Chelsea's undivided focus and attention . Both were unable to continue with their work and because their home in Steinbach was farther away, they stayed close to the hospital at the Ronald McDonald House to be with Zion.
During Zion’s first year of life, only three months have been spent at home with his parents.
Prayer and Miracles
As Chelsea and Josh have openly shared their challenges over this past year, they've been encouraged by the prayers and support of a wonderful family, church community and friends around the world. Through the darkest moments Josh and Chelsea have stayed in faith and continued to believe that a miracle-working God would make a way for Zion to live and not die, believing that He has a plan for Zion's life and that he will continue to grow healthy, whole and strong. To witness their unwavering courage has been an inspiration to all who know them and we've all fallen in love with Zion as we've joined our hearts with them in the battle for his life.
Back in Vancouver Again
While Zion has seen countless miracles big and small, additional treatment and surgery is still needed. Doctors recommended that Chelsea and Josh consider moving to Toronto or Vancouver to access the level of special care necessary for Zion at this stage. This past April they had to make a critical decision, leaving all their belongings behind and catching the next available flight to bring Zion to Vancouver. Currently they are staying with Chelsea’s parents in close proximity to Vancouver Children's Hospital until they are able to resettle.
Since June, Zion has been one of only 10 babies in BC receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN) at home intravenously and he is seeing steady progress and weight gain. He may be ready for the surgery to reconnect his digestive tract by this winter.
The Mounting Expenses
What Josh, Chelsea and baby Zion are going through as a young family is an incredible ordeal that’s difficult for most of us to even imagine. Yet they continue to be positive, describing this past year as having been
to heaven and back. While they are encouraged and amazed at God's faithfulness and at the progress of baby Zion to this point, they've been very reluctant to share their financial need or the expenses that have mounted.
As months went by the expenses not covered by health insurance and the incurred costs of this disruption have continued to pile up. These include:
*10 months of employment income loss
*Hospital stay related costs
*Medical equipment and supplies not covered
*Ronald McDonald House accommodations
*Real estate loss
*Storage unit costs
*Upcoming hospital stays (at least three weeks)
As we celebrate Zion’s first birthday August 8, 2017, all of us who have followed and supported Chelsea and Josh as well as others who are just now hearing this story have an opportunity to rally around this family financially and see them get back on their feet. All donations received will help cover the expenses accumulated from this past year as well as upcoming costs and hospital stays in the months ahead.
Looking into Zion's little face we can't help but see the strength, the fight, and the sense of destiny that God has for his life. Our generosity in response to this crucial need will allow us all to have a part in helping make a way for Zion to fulfill his purpose and see an incredible future!
We are believing also that as each of us give sacrificially to this cause that God will make a way for all of us in our own needs and the plans he has for us.
Thank you so much for your support and sharing in this miracle as we keep you updated!
- Jocelyn Chu
- Elaine Stebner
- Helene Chong
Organizer and beneficiary
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