5-year-old waiting on transplant

Sue Guinn Legg • Jun 14, 2012 at 4:42 PM

Weston Keeton, the 5-year-old Blountville boy who recently marked the one-year anniversary of his stay at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is still waiting for his heart and double lung transplant and having a difficult week.

Weston’s mom Julie Harless Keeton, who’s been at the hospital with him for the past year, is asking for prayers. In daily updates posted this week on the Praying for Weston page at the Children’s Organ Transplant Association website, Julie wrote that Weston was having a tube surgically placed Wednesday that will deliver medicine directly to his heart. The pulmonary hypertension Weston suffers put him at greater risk during the surgery, prompting Julie’s request for extra prayers.

The good news is that during his year in Philadelphia, Julie reports Weston’s condition has improved from the point of doctors telling the family they “didn’t understand how he was alive” to telling them they “have never seen a child so sick do so well.”

It was Weston’s underlying congenital aortic stenosis and mitral stenosis that led the Keetons to Philadelphia for the transplant so rare that it is only performed only once per year in the United States and two to four times annually in the world. Every day that passes puts Weston closer to the lifesaving operation and he and his mom one day closer to returning home to his dad and siblings. In the meantime, the Keetons’ family members and friends here in the Tri-Cities are continuing to raise funds to help cover their out-of-pocket medical expenses and the cost of their travel and living arrangements in Philadelphia.

While the average cost of a transplant is estimated at $500,000, the immediate goal for the Keeton family is $75,000, of which more than $15,000 has already been raised through local benefits and individual donations. For those who wish to contribute or to keep up with Weston during his stay in Philadelphia, more information including Julie’s daily blog and an opportunity to donate online can be found at www.COTAforWestonK.com. Or, donations earmarked for Weston Keeton’s transplant may be made by mail to Children’s Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, Ind., 47403. More information about Weston’s progress is also available at the Praying for Weston page on Facebook.

Good Samaritan Ministries is still in search of a couple of dependable used cars to help a couple of families in serious need, a recently homeless family with three children and a mother battling cancer and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan with disabling post traumatic stress disorder.

Last month the ministry reported that circumstances beyond his control had forced the veteran and his wife to move from his family’s farm in Unicoi County to government assisted housing in downtown Johnson City. With help from a fellow veteran, the couple has since returned to the peace of rural Unicoi but with that move, their need for a car dependable enough to make daily trips to Johnson City for her job and his therapy sessions at Veterans Affairs Medical Center has only increased. The ministry has so far received just more than $500 to help the couple with a trade up but is continuing to hold out hope that a dependable automobile will be donated on their behalf. Good Samaritan’s request is for anyone who is able to help to call 928-1958 for more information.

The ministry is seeking a second good, used vehicle to help a formerly homeless family with four school-age children and mother battling cancer. Last month the family moved into an affordable apartment, the mother began chemotherapy and the father started a new job without the benefit of a car to get him there. This week, the ministry reported the mother is continuing in treatment and doing well and members of their church have so far managed to deliver the father to and from work. The family remains in dire need of a car of their own and the ministry is likewise requesting anyone who is able to help to call 928-1958 for information.

Or, donations earmarked for “Veteran’s Car” or for “Family Car” may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to Good Samaritan Ministry, P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605.

If there is a need or a charitable project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, large or small, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or call 929-3111, ext. 335.

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