Meet Jacob Turner

In fundamental ways, Jacob Turner is like any six-year-old boy: a robust, energetic, and outgoing kindergartener who loves picking on his big sister.

“He’s a lot of fun,” says his mom, Emily. “We wouldn’t change anything about him.”

But this happy, healthy little boy has had some dramatic struggles along the way.

Jacob was born with Down Syndrome in August 2011 to Emily, an ER nurse, and Eric, a builder and firefighter. He appeared to be a healthy baby, Emily says, but a heart test detected a problem. An Angel One plane transported newborn Jacob from Mena to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and as Emily puts it, “the journey began there.”

‘From the get-go, Children’s was amazing to us,” says Emily. She particularly appreciated the way the hospital team addressed the needs of the whole family. “A child life worker gave my daughter a book about a little girl her age who was also named Emma, and had a baby brother born with Down Syndrome. It was spot on. “

Still recovering from giving birth, Jacob’s mom says she also grateful for the practical assistance in dealing with the family’s financial concerns.

“They were already working on setting us up with Medicaid and Tefra when I got there. There are no words to tell you how that’s helped our family.”

Jacob’s first stay at Children’s lasted 17 days while his heart defect was evaluated. He needed open-heart surgery, but to boost his chances, the doctors wanted him to get bigger first. Three months later, he returned to Children’s and spent ten days in cardiovascular ICU, following a successful repair with no complications.

“I can’t say enough good things about how they’ve taken care of him in the cardiology dept and everything they’ve done,” says Emily. Cardiologist Dr. Best sees Jacob once a year now, and “everything is looking very good.”

After heart surgery, Jacob began to thrive, but around age three, a new set of crises arose in the form of respiratory illness.
In 2013, he was admitted to ER at ACH with mycoplasma pneumonia, where he spent 10 days. “He was very, very sick,” Emily remembers. “It was a scary ordeal for us. They literally saved his life. I’ll never forget how great the doctors and the staff were.”

Unfortunately, Jacob’s parents would re-visit those fears when an episode of RSV caused them to return to ER this past winter. “It was scary stuff—the sickest I’ve ever seen him. Dr Abramo and Nick, a respiratory therapist in the ER, saved him. We are forever grateful to those guys.”

Jacob was discharged after a week, and fully recovered. He’s back in school and “doing great,” his mom says. In a typical classroom most of the day, Jacob receives physical, speech, and occupational therapies at school, and is “really thriving,” says Emily. “We’re grateful and hoping to keep him healthy.” She knows they have powerful allies on their side in that fight.

“Arkansas Children’s went above and beyond anything we could have hoped for and continue to do so. I can’t begin to express the gratitude we feel. Being a nurse, I tell people all the time that Arkansas Children’s is the best possible place for a child with any illness. It is the place to be. “

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