JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A Unicoi County, Tennessee 8-year-old has been chosen as the 2023 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMN) “Champion Kid”, representing the Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City.
Jaxon Bailey was a patient at the region’s only children’s hospital in May 2018 when, at the age of 4, he developed viral pneumonia in both lungs and had to be admitted to the Niswonger Children’s Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
As the CMN Champion Kid, Jaxon will represent the hospital at public events and play a starring role during the Niswonger Children’s Hospital Radiothon, happening March 2-3. Money raised during the two-day campaign will support the improvement of pediatric care across the Tri-Cities Region.
“All the doctors and nurses were very good to me when I was here,” said Jaxon, who turns 9 in a couple of weeks. “I just wanted to help them raise money for kids.”
For parents Jason and Tracy Bailey, helping the hospital is a family tradition born out of gratitude for the lifesaving care Jaxon received over the period of 5 days.
“Never in a million years when I have thought I would be here with my baby,” said Tracy Bailey, Jaxon’s mother. “We had a healthy baby, a healthy baby boy that had more energy. And he was perfect. He was perfect in me. And in the blink of an eye, we were the ones here begging for help.”
Bailey said her son seemed perfectly normal that sunny Saturday afternoon. “He even helped me wash my car,” she said. A photo taken that afternoon shows him smiling as he helped his Mom.
But by that night, he was tearful and lethargic – highly unusual for the active little boy, according to Bailey.
“He said he didn’t want to talk,” Bailey said. “He said, ‘Don’t talk to me! Don’t touch me!’ I checked his fever, and it was 103.”
The Bailey’s rushed Jaxon to Niswonger Children’s Hospital in Johnson City where an exam found Jaxon had viral pneumonia in both lungs.
“He had literally been fine,” Bailey said. “There was nothing wrong with him. He didn’t even have a cold. How did he have pneumonia?”
Each day brought worse news. Jaxon continued to get sicker. His lungs were filling with fluid, and medications seemed to make no difference. The only option seemed to be a chest tube to drain the fluids.
After a night of praying for a miracle, the doctors ordered one last scan of Jaxon’s lungs.
“The doctor said, ‘I have no explanation for this, but there’s there’s no fluid in his lungs,'” Bailey told News Channel 11. “It was unbelievable. We have no other explanation other than our prayers were answered.”
Soon, Jaxon was back home, but his parents say they’ve never forgotten what happened at the children’s hospital in Johnson City.
“It is truly indescribable,” Bailey said. “The nurses treated him like he was theirs. And we didn’t know these people. We didn’t know any of them. And they came in, and they loved on us. They hugged on us. They cried with us.”
Last year, Jaxon and his family started a new tradition of bringing a donation to the hospital during Radiothon, with the hope that their gift will help other families who need a miracle like they had four years ago.
“If had it to do over and I could either come here or I could I could go anywhere in the United States, I would have brought him brought back here,” Bailey said.