Meet Jaxson Friend


Jaxson Friend’s parents found out he had a heart defect the day he was born — his heart murmur was so distinct you could feel it outside his body, and an echocardiogram showed he had two holes in his heart and a narrowing of the valve that released blood to go back to his lungs. But they didn’t find out how bad her son’s condition was until Jaxson went for his 6-month checkup and a nurse practitioner noticed that his fingertips and toes and lips turned blue when he cried.

“She ordered an echocardiogram,” Jaxson’s mom, Stacey, said. “He had it on a Tuesday, they sent the results to Arkansas Children’s on Wednesday, and we got a phone call on Thursday wanting us to be there Friday.”

The Friend family drove down from their home in Paragould, and at that Friday appointment, the cardiologist told them that Jaxson would need to have surgery to repair the holes and valve.“It was a mom’s worst nightmare,” she said. “We had the surgery five weeks later.”

Thanks to you, the Friends were cared for by a team of doctors and nurses who made it clear that Jaxson was in good hands.

“It’s a scary feeling when you know your child is going to have a surgery like this, but everyone there was so nice and made us feel so at ease,” Stacey said. The Friends family were told that someone would call the waiting room with updates as Jaxson’s surgery progressed. “But a nurse came every time there was a new development during his surgery,” Stacey said.

Before the surgery, Jaxson cried all the time, Stacey said. He could never get enough to eat, and his fingers and toes and lips always looked bluer than normal. He had a chronic cough, which turned out to be the result of fluid building up around his heart and lungs. But when Stacey saw him for the first time after the operation, she could already see a change.

“He was still asleep, but his lips were so pink,” she said. “I had never seen his lips so pink and healthy.” Now 7, Jaxson’s a rambunctious boy who never stops talking and never stops moving, his mom said. He’s full of energy, plays soccer, and loves Minecraft. And even though he hasn’t had to see his cardiologist since 2013, Stacey said it’s been important to her to stay involved with ACH.

“I just try to help or advertise or fundraise or whatever we can because we love that hospital,” Stacey said. “They saved my son’s life.” When a friend told her about the Ambassadors program, she decided to apply. “We are so grateful for the care we received and how wonderfully everyone treated us while we were there,” Stacey said. “They have hundreds of patients, but you feel like you’re their number one priority.”


Donate in honor of Jaxson by visiting his fundraising page here. Until no child needs us, we need you.

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