When KeShawn Sanders Jackson was born prematurely at 23 weeks gestation, he weighed just 1 lb. 5 oz. He spent the first few months of his life at Akron Children’s neonatal intensive care unit at St. Elizabeth Boardman Hospital before being transferred to the NICU at Children’s Akron campus.
Through every step of the way, KeShawn has defied the odds. Although he has chronic lung disease due to his extreme prematurity, he’s no longer ventilator-dependent. Now 2 ½ years old, he’s learned how to walk and loves when his mom Marquitta sings and reads to him.
Marquitta is grateful for the support she’s received from the Haslinger Family Pediatric Palliative Care Center at Akron Children’ and for KeShawn’s neonatologists. They gave her hope and helped empower her to care for KeShawn at home.
“Even when the situation seemed hopeless, Marlene (Marlene Hardy-Gomez, palliative care nurse practitioner) gave me hope,” said Marquitta. “She always made me feel better.”
The palliative care team continues to support her by making visits to their home in Warren and helping to coordinate the team of specialists that provide ongoing care.
KeShawn sees a pulmonologist for his chronic lung disease and an ophthalmologist for concerns regarding his vision.
Although he’s walking, he tends to walk on his toes, so he will be getting braces to help improve his gait. He also receives services from the state of Ohio’s Help Me Grow program to help him overcome delays in his development because he was born so prematurely.
Another way the Haslinger center has supported Marquitta is through the Holiday Elves program that delivers gifts and other holiday treats to families.
“They brought wonderful gifts, which really helped to make the holiday’s special,” said Marquitta. “Everything was really nice and very much appreciated.”
Marquitta credits her faith in God and all of the support she has received from the Haslinger center with KeShawn’s recovery. She also knows the loving care she’s provided for her son has helped him thrive despite the odds.
The entire experience has inspired Marquitta to get her GED so she can work with kids with special needs.
“I’ve learned so much from caring for KeShawn and now I know that I’d like to help other kids too,” she said.