Joy is a single mom with a 16-year-old daughter. Her daughter Erin was born with a life threatening heart defect: the left-side of her heart never developed, and the doctors told Joy all they could do was keep Erin comfortable until she died. Someone at the hospital that day heard about their situation, and related a story about a boy born 15 days earlier in Salt Lake City with the same heart defect. He had undergone the first of three experimental surgeries and survived.
Though the Boise doctors had stopped sending children to undergo this surgery because no one was surviving it, they gave Joy the opportunity to life-flight Erin to Salt Lake City for the same procedure. Joy related that at the beginning of that day, she had $100 to her name; by sunset she had $900 and a car that someone had loaned them to get to Salt Lake. Talk about a wing and a prayer!
Erin was given a very low chance for surviving even one of the surgeries. But fifteen months and three surgeries later, Erin was doing very well! She had passed through with flying colors and only one setback: the surgeons nicked a nerve during one of the surgeries, and had to go back in to put in a pacemaker (this was considered fairly common and wasn’t too alarming).
Unfortunately, Erin didn’t do well in the pacemaker surgery and Joy rushed back to the hospital as she was told she may lose Erin. In a final attempt to save Erin, the doctors were able to correct the problem. At that time, Erin was the first survivor in the Northwest to have that heart defect and not have a heart transplant. Because of the medical breakthroughs experienced in Erin’s surgeries, other children with the same heart defect have since survived.
After living in a transitional housing situation in Salt Lake for almost six months, Joy was finally able to bring Erin home. Their home needed extensive structural, roof, and electrical work, and they received a Veterans Park Administration rehabilitation loan. Repairs were made then, but little to no work has been done on the house since. (Joy comments that, due to her limited financial resources, “it’s falling apart.”) At one time, it had the most beautiful yard in the neighborhood; now her property is overrun with weeds, litter and debris.
A few years ago, Joy and Erin got locked out of the house so they had to break in through a rear window. Some volunteers helped her board up the window, and it remains an eye-sore.
Joy’s parents come to visit often, but because she doesn’t have a wheelchair ramp, her mother cannot enter her home. She said they usually sit in her parent’s car to visit.
Their neighborhood has seen quite a bit of redevelopment recently, and in the last five years, new two-story town homes have appeared on either side of her home. Joy sees her home now as a thorn among roses.
Joy used to work temp jobs, but has been unable to in recent years due to several disabilities. She describes herself as a “single mom, just trying to make it.” Erin continues to suffer various health problems, and Joy currently home-schools Erin.
Joy’s monthly expenses exceed her income. She describes her financial situation as “very tight,” but that is an understatement. She even commented that “if we made only what is considered poverty level, we’d be rolling in the dough!” She currently gets energy assistance and support from local food banks, and is quick to say that she has worked very hard to not acquire any credit card debt.
She was very excited at the thought of just getting her home painted- you can only imagine her joy at what awaits her and Erin.
I hope their story captures your heart, as it has already for so many people and companies. If you are able, please donate to their fund at any U.S. Bank location.