Brandon’s Life Story Chapter 6

October 1993

Written by Brandon’s Aunt Jennifer

Becoming an aunt for the first time was an exciting and joyful experience.   Brandon’s mom, Heather, is my only sibling and she is three years younger than me. Seeing Brandon right after he was born and being able to hold him was so exciting and fun.  Despite living six hours away I visited as much as possible

I loved traveling to FL with Brandon, Heather, and my mom (fondly known as Grandma J) for his first and only FL beach vacation. Since my husband and I did not yet have children, I could spoil Brandon and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him. Brandon was so healthy on this trip and I had no idea what was in store for him. After our vacation, I returned to our home back in KY, resuming my usual work/life schedule. 

The Thanksgiving holiday was quickly approaching. My husband Chris and I planned to head north to Michigan to spend time with Brandon and the rest of the family. About ten days before Thanksgiving Brandon, who recently turned six months old, came down with what was thought to be his first cold. Seven days later and Brandon’s cold had taken a turn for the worse. Brandon’s doctor admitted him to the local hospital, my sweet nephew was one sick baby. Unfortunately, his illness continued to deteriorate, and he was transferred to another hospital further away that had a PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). Our thanksgiving plans of roasted turkey and homemade pie were quickly replaced with hospital waiting rooms and unanswered questions.

The cause of Brandon’s illness was a mystery to the doctors until one doctor finally had an inkling on the cause and believed that his body needed to rest to have a chance to survive. The doctors wanted to put Brandon on an ECMO machine to let his heart and lungs rest so he could best fight while the doctors worked to confirm what was wrong with him. Brandon was then immediately transferred to yet another hospital, the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital, which was the best hospital in the area and had an ECMO machine that he could be placed on for treatment. This machine was now acting as Brandon’s heart and lungs. I remember all this drama was heartbreaking to watch. Seeing Brandon and his parents going through such a hardship was difficult. At the same time, this brought all of the family together. I was able to get time off work and stayed up near the hospital as much as possible. Chris drove up on the weekends. Both sides of Brandon’s family were at the hospital every day. We all bonded, talking, telling stories, playing cards and supporting Brandon as much as possible. 

The happiest moment was when Brandon was baptized in the hospital by the family’s pastor from Midland, MI. Today when I look back at Brandon’s journey and his ultimate diagnosis with SCID, I do find comfort in the memories of all the amazing doctors and nurses, supportive and loving family members and a wonderful church minister who was there to help our family along this devastating, heart breaking path. Brandon is forever in my heart.