LAS VEGAS, Sept. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Watching two-year-old Justin Oliver laugh, run, play and even count to 10, you'd never believe that this time last year, the joyful toddler was fighting for his life following a double-lung transplant.
"He was on life support for 97 days, in intensive care for 107 days," recalls his mother, Ericka Easterling. "After all the suffering he's been through, he's a normal two-year-old. He loves to run around. He's super excited about Halloween. He likes the scary stuff!"
But the frights of Halloween have nothing on the "scary stuff" Justin has already survived. He was born with pulmonary veno-occlusive disease—a genetic condition so rare, it affects less than 2 in 10 million people, according to the National Institutes of Health. The disease is nearly always fatal without treatment.
Ericka first noticed her son's labored breathing when he was just three weeks old, but months of pediatrician appointments, x-rays and ER visits yielded no answers. Then at 15 months, Justin's condition took a devastating turn. He contracted an illness and went into respiratory failure. Given just 48 hours to live, he was airlifted to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston—more than a thousand miles from the family's home in Charlotte, North Carolina. There, doctors diagnosed Justin's condition and placed him on a waiting list for a double-lung transplant.
For three months, Justin clung to life support as his mother anxiously awaited a donor. On August 30, 2019, the family's prayers were answered, and Justin received his life-saving surgery.
One year later, Justin—nicknamed "Big Deuce" for his fighting spirit—is thriving. He travels to Houston every few months for follow-up appointments, and he likely will until he's an adult. It's an expense that could quickly add up, but Justin and his family don't have to worry about that: Miracle Flights is covering the cost for every flight they need.
As the nation's leading medical flight charity, Miracle Flights provides financial assistance to families like Justin's, who need help reaching complex medical care far from home. Free plane tickets are provided to both patients and their caregivers to any treatment facility in the country, as many times as necessary.
"Miracle Flights—you've got the name right. It is a miracle," says Ericka. "If I didn't have Miracle Flights, when it came time for his check-up, I couldn't do it."
Justin and Ericka will take their next Miracle Flight to Houston on Sunday, September 20. To support Justin on his medical journey, or to request a flight for your own family, visit miracleflights.org.
About Miracle Flights
Miracle Flights is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides free air transportation to children and adults who need help reaching specialty medical care only available far from home. The organization, founded in 1985, has provided 132,482 flights and typically books more than 600 flights per month on commercial airlines across the United States. To request a flight, learn more or donate, call 800-359-1711 or visit miracleflights.org. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.
Press Contact: Erika Koff: (702) 261-0494 or [email protected]
SOURCE Miracle Flights