Amazing Neighbors

August 2, 2013

Waiting for the call

PLATTSBURGH — Jonathan Waldron awakes every morning surrounded by machines, with a view of the nurse’s station across the hall.

In the Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital since May 30, he awaits news of a possible lung transplant.

“He’s very close to the top of the list, and we have had offers that unfortunately haven’t been good enough,” said Jonathan’s mother, Marlene Waldron.

Pediatric patients often can’t accept adult organs, especially lungs, she said.

“It’s the hardest organ to transplant; it’s the only organ that interacts with the outside world,” she explained.


Jonathan, 17, has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening, chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. 

His body is rejecting the lungs from a 2008 transplant, which means he needs help breathing and ridding his body of carbon dioxide.

To help with the process, the Morrisonville teen was put on a machine known as ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

“So now the blood is coming out of his body and is being oxygenated, the carbon dioxide is being pulled out mechanically, and the blood is being put back into his body,” Marlene explained. 

“Unfortunately, there’s a time limit. Thirty-five days is the average a person is on it.”

He has also had a tracheotomy, which makes talking difficult.


Thursday was day 27 for Jonathan, and the wait is excruciating for him and his family. 

But every day is a new hope.

“The good thing is that Jonathan is ambulatory,” his mother said this week. “Every day, they try to get him to sit up and do exercises. He walked yesterday and the day before, and he’ll try to walk today.”

Her son, she said, is a quirky guy with a wicked sense of humor, and a prankster.

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