Five-year-old Jackson began experiencing symptoms his mother, MariClair, attributed to growing pains in the spring of 2006. His continued illness and lethargy, however, convinced her to take him in to the family doctor. After a series of tests and hospital admissions, she and her husband, Tim, received devastating news—Jackson was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma.
Jackson endured several rounds of chemotherapy, then a bone marrow transplant at Mayo Clinic. After the transplant, he had radiation treatments until May 2007.
Jackson remained cancer-free for one year before relapsing in June 2008. The cancer had spread to his brain and marrow again. MariClair and Tim sought treatment at two other medical facilities, continuously supported by Mayo Clinic, so Jackson was able to receive as much treatment at home as possible.
Following a chemotherapy treatment in 2009, Jackson became extremely ill. Experiencing severe difficulty breathing, he was admitted to pediatric intensive care. Jackson fought for two-and-a-half weeks, but his health continuously declined. "We made the gut-wrenching decision to pull all artificial means of life support, and Jackson died in my arms on August 3, 2009, at the age of eight years old," says MariClair.
MariClair would like to share, "Without the lifesaving gift of blood, Jackson would not have survived his first month of treatments. The transfusions allowed him to feel good after treatments that would have otherwise left him so rundown that he wouldn’t have been able to function." She and her daughters donate blood whenever they are able to believing that donating on Jackson’s Heaven Anniversary may become a tradition with their family.