Dodge City blood drive to be held today from noon to 6 p.m. and from 7:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 27 at the Dodge City Senior Center, 2408 Center Ave in honor of young Parker Flax who was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease.
By Nancy Calderon
Dodge City Daily Globe
It is a day that young parents, Daniel and Jessica Flax will never forget: Sept. 18, 2013.
That day Jessica watched her almost one-year-old turn blue with no exhaling breaths. A mother's meaning, bringing life to the world, took a new meaning when Jessica found herself performing mouth to mouth to her baby boy to bring him back to life.
Jessica explains the minutes waiting for emergency medical services to arrive to her Cimarron home that day felt like an eternity. She had no explanation of what was happening to her son Parker. All she knew is the "bad gut feeling" she felt for so long, was finally playing out in front of her.
Parker — or "Lunchbox" as his dad nicknamed him due to his humorous big appetite — was rushed to Western Plains Medical Complex in Dodge City where he was rushed into the emergency room. Inside the room, Parker collapsed once more and his parents were then rushed out of the room when he coded and had to be electrically shocked to restore rhythm in his heart.
"The doctors suggested my husband and I and our family go in to talk to Parker in case he didn't make the trip to Kansas City," Jessica said.
Parker was airlifted to The Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City that evening and was admitted into the intensive care unit. After undergoing numerous tests, the Flax family finally heard what they had for so long, longed for...an explanation.
Parker was diagnosed with having Kawasaki disease.
Kawasaki disease also known as Kawasaki syndrome is an autoimmune disease that can provide different symptoms, of no specific pattern from case to case-making it so difficult to diagnose like in Parker's case. It is reported that without treatment, mortality rate may approach one percent.
A percentage Parker was nearing. His heart was hanging by a thread, according to his mom, his heart stopped three times, once at his home, once on the way to the emergency room and once inside the emergency room.
The beginning of the silent disease
The Flaxs said Parker showed symptoms as early as three months old. It began when he first developed cold-like symptoms and when examined by a doctor, were told Parker was simply battling a virus. But in February of last year Parker was symptomatic of ongoing fevers and most recently had developed a red rash, Jessica's instincts told her something was very wrong.
Her baby went from being content, sweet-natured, and easy-going as she described him to a child with discomfort.
"He seemed like he was always in pain," She said.
Parker's parents persistently sought answers as they re-visited doctors trying to gain information that would help them better understand the change in their son. Instead, they were given answers that were unsettling.
Doctors initially told the parents Parker suffered from a virus which then led to suffering from "roseola rash" accompanied by a 106-degree fever. His continuous bad health was just a "luck of the draw."
Jessica said she grew frustrated and upset as she felt she was screaming for someone to help save her child but her words were as good as dust blown into the wind.
"I was losing all hope, no one believed me that he was very sick," she said. "I felt doctors started to feel like I was just an over protective mom but a mother knows when something is not right with her child, and I knew.
At the time of his diagnosis, Parker suffered from the most serious effect that can come from the disease, it had affected his heart and the Flax's soon found out it had caused coronary artery aneurysms.
Living with answers; treatment and stability
Doctors at The Children's Mercy Hospital informed the Flax's of the severity of the situation. They were able to discover that Parker had in fact suffered a heart attack causing Parker to collapse when he did. Surgery performed the next day showed Parker's right coronary artery had 100 percent blockage with dilation in his left coronary artery.
Parker was right away placed on blood thinners among other medication and injections to help reduce the blockage and was released on Sept. 29, one day before his first birthday. The Flaxs celebrated the milestone at home, blowing out a much prayed for candle that was symbolic of their miracle child and how the Flax family and Parker's brother, Mason were given a second chance with "Lunchbox."
Daniel and Jessica often travel to Texas, where they have found a specialist in Kawasaki disease who recommended Parker's bypass surgery. When Parker was last was examined, he was down to only 25 percent blockage.
"My knees buckled, It's what we were praying for," Jessica said.
The young parents said Parker today continues to be on blood thinners and is expected to be on them for the rest of his life. He also receives an injection twice a day among other medications.
The medicine has helped him catch up and exceed all of his medical milestones.
"This put life into perspective for me," Parker's dad said. "The saying, 'life is short', is no longer just a saying. Life IS too short, I learned to not take anything for granted and to not complain about the little things."
Both parents agreed Parker's situation was a positive life-changer but also a traumatizing one for them.
"To this day, I sleep with my hand on his stomach to make sure he's breathing," Jessica said.