While new parents may be overwhelmed with the unexpected twists and turns of raising their first child, they generally know what to expect by the time they’ve had their fourth. So long as there are no curveballs thrown their way, a pair of experienced parents can handle just about any challenge.
But for one Australian family adding a new member to their family, things turned out to be a lot more challenging than what most parents ever experience.
Amy and Leigh McNamara of Bendigo, Australia were the happy parents of three beautiful children. They wanted to have a fourth child and were delighted when they found out that Amy was pregnant once again.
Let’s Have Another
The McNamaras were expecting a fourth child, a boy, to be born in early 2013. Like all parents their main concern was that he be born happy and healthy…
The pregnancy proceeded without any issues until just shy of 8 months. Then, 5 weeks before the McNamara’s baby was due, his heart rate began to plummet in the womb.
In order to save the baby’s life the doctors decided it would be best to have an emergency cesarian section. This would enable them to treat the baby directly. The McNamaras decided that this was the best chance they had for their baby boy to survive…
That’s how little Jett McNamara came into the world. He was a beautiful boy and his parents hoped that the doctors could treat whatever problem was causing his low heart rate so they could take him home and resume their lives with another wonderful addition to the family.
The doctors had plenty of concerns, though. “They kept saying things like he had abnormal features,” said Amy “and I just couldn’t understand what they meant, he looked like a gorgeous baby to me”…
When it Rains it Pours
The reason Jett’s heart rate had been dropping so low, apparently, was that he had three separate holes in his heart. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was born with kidney problems, no calf muscles, and his feet were malformed and pointing upward toward his shins. There were a whole slew of challenges ahead for Jett.
To top it all off, Jett was born with a rare disorder called sacral agenesis, a congenital developmental disorder that meant he was born missing a portion of his lower spine. “As soon as they said he would be wheelchair bound and probably not have as good a quality of life as us due to kidney problems I broke down,” said Amy…
Amy and Leigh decided that it would be best for their family if Amy became a full-time mother so she could provide the extra care that Jett needed. They also relocated from Bendigo to Melbourne so they could be closer to the hospital where many of Jett’s specialist doctors were located and where Jett would need to make weekly hospital visits for the first two years of his life.
Jett would eventually need surgery to correct the holes in his heart. But during a doctor’s visit, something incredibly happened. “I took Jett to a regular check-up and they told me all the holes in his heart had closed, he didn’t need surgery,” Amy said. “I couldn’t believe the doctor at first, I asked them to double-check”…
That was the first time that Amy and Leigh referred to Jett as their “Super Baby.” Since then, Jett hasn’t stopped amazing his parents and astounding his doctors. They initially believed that Jett would be wheelchair bound for the rest of his life.
Things still weren’t easy for the family of six, now living on a single income. As you can imagine, the cost of Jett’s medical care was a big strain on McNamara’s finances. When Jett required a specialized wheelchair that cost $6,000 AUD (a little less than $5,000 USD)…
That’s when a team at a local pharmacy stepped in. Amy and Jett had become regulars at a particular pharmacy where he inspired all the employees with his amazing story. They started raising contributions to help pay for Jett’s wheelchair, helping the McNamara’s afford it.
Jett was able to take a some tentative first steps without any assistance. “The first time he was actually playing with his siblings,” Amy said. “They all started screaming and said: “mum, Jett’s walking without holding anything.” Just like that, Jett had performed another miracle…
Remember Jett’s kidney problems? Doctors believed that those problems he was born with would plague him for the rest of his life. But just like his heart that healed itself, despite the initial diagnosis, Jett’s kidney problems went away all on their own.
Lots of Surgery
In order to improve Jett’s mobility and correct the problems with his feet, his doctors have had to perform surgeries. The five different operations Jett’s had on his legs and feet have largely corrected the malformation he had at birth…
Jett has only gotten better at walking. He could remain standing for 4 steps, then 8, then 12. Now, he can motor around his family’s back yard with the rest of his siblings.
Looking Up to Them
Amy thought that a lot of Jett’s motivation comes from his brother and two sisters. “I think he wouldn’t have that ‘go’ about him if wasn’t for his older siblings,” she said. “He always wants to keep up with them”…
Long Road Ahead
Despite overcoming unbelievable challenges, there is still a long and difficult road ahead for Jett. He still uses a walking frame and sometimes a wheelchair to get around because walking is very tiring. He will require many more surgeries over his lifetime for his spine, hips and knees.
Can’t Be Stopped
And as he is getting older, Jett is beginning to realize that he’s different from other children. But his parents are doing their best to keep positive and treat him just as they would his other siblings. “Jett will live a normal a life as possible,” Amy said. What’s not normal is Jett’s indomitable will.