Siloam Springs firefighter gifts son a kidney

State News

Between a hefty price tag, a pandemic, and baby number two on the way, the Griggs are finally seeing a light at the end of a tunnel.

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A Siloam Springs firefighter is giving his son the gift of life, after almost a year of multiple procedures, hospital visits, and miles on the road.

COURTESY OF JENNIFER GRIGGS

At a little more than a year old, Ethan Griggs went into septic shock.

His road to recovery is almost over though, just shy of his second birthday — thanks to his dad, Siloam Springs Fire Captain Zac Griggs.

I know everyone is going through terrible times with COVID-19, but this year has been especially hard on us.

ZAC GRIGGS, ETHAN’S FATHER

Ethan was born a healthy baby boy in October of 2018, but at 13 months old, things took a turn.

COURTESY OF JENNIFER GRIGGS

“He woke up throwing up and was severely dehydrated,” Jennifer Griggs, Ethan’s mom, said. “He wasn’t improving so we took him to the ER.”

He coded there.

JENNIFER GRIGGS, ETHAN’S MOTHER

He survived, but had many complications.

“He underwent surgery where they removed 80-percent of his colon, he was diagnosed with multiple organ failure, his heart function was at 30-percent,” Jennifer said.

COURTESY OF JENNIFER GRIGGS

Ethan was flown to Omaha, Nebraska for treatment.

Everything fully recovered except for his kidneys.

He was discharged in February and has since traveled back and forth from Northwest Arkansas to Central Arkansas to the only pediatric dialysis unit in the state.

“Currently we commute to and from Little Rock, three days a week, and spend 21 hours in the car and about four to five hundred dollars on gas every month,” Jennifer said.

In August, the Griggs found out Ethan would be eligible for a new kidney and could be added to the donor list.

COURTESY OF JENNIFER GRIGGS

However, the family won’t have to wait for a stranger’s sacrifice because Ethan’s father, Zac Griggs, is a match.

“It’s a small sacrifice to give someone a huge gift,” Zac said.

Between a hefty price tag, a pandemic, and baby number two on the way, the Griggs are finally seeing a light at the end of a tunnel.

“We’re due for our next baby boy in a week,” Jennifer said.

COURTESY OF JENNIFER GRIGGS

The transplant surgery is scheduled for November 12.

The Griggs said they’ve learned a lot about organ donations through Ethan’s journey.

If you can function with one and you’re willing to give that gift of life to someone else, why not?

ZAC GRIGGS, ETHAN’S FATHER

The couple hopes their experience will raise awareness and educate people about the possibility of organ donation to save someone else’s life.

“There are tons of kids on the waiting list,” Zac said. “Some of them even die in the process of waiting.”

COURTESY OF JENNIFER GRIGGS

The Ethan Strong Campaign, organized through the Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA), was created to help raise money for the family’s expenses.

https://cota.org/campaigns/COTAforEthanStrong

The fundraising campaign, which has a goal of $40,000, officially kicked-off on September 12 and will continue through September 24.

Ethan was born a healthy baby boy in October of 2018. In November 2019, at thirteen months old, he went into septic shock which caused cardiac arrest, a colostomy, and multiple organ failure. Throughout his journey, we spent the first month of his illness at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock, 3.5 hours away from home. We were then medically flown to Omaha, Nebraska, for further treatment.

During his time at Nebraska Med, he was in the Intestinal Rehab Program and the remainder of his intestines were able to start working again. His liver also improved, healing completely in March 2020. We were discharged from Nebraska Med in February 2020 to continue as out-patient dialysis in Arkansas. Unfortunately, there is only one pediatric dialysis unit in the whole state, which is at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. Ethan is not a candidate for peritoneal dialysis (which can be done nightly at home) due to all of his intestinal issues.

For two months we stayed at Ronald McDonald House Charities in Little Rock, but when COVID-19 started shutting things down in our state, we were faced with the challenge of finding other accommodations. We are a one-income household, who are also expecting baby boy #2 any day now. We found the Glory House Foundation and stayed in their place for two months, but with Dad traveling to work, pregnancy, a sick toddler, and being away from all of our support system, we decided to move back home and commute. Since May 2020 we have been commuting to and from Little Rock 3 days a week for dialysis, which costs us an average of $400 monthly on gas alone.

In August 2020, Ethan had his Transplant Evaluation as well as his Dad (to be a donor). Dad is a match and Ethan was officially listed, so we have scheduled Transplant for November 2020. The transplant will take place in Omaha, Nebraska, (a 7-hour drive from home) due to our insurance regulations for specific transplant centers.

We have had amazing support from our friends, family, and community during this difficult time, and we are so grateful. We have watched miracles such as Ethan’s heart function go from 30% to completely normal and a recovery of his intestines and liver. We can’t wait for Ethan to have a better life quality with a new kidney!

The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) helps children and young adults who need a life-saving transplant by providing fundraising assistance and family support. COTA is the nation’s only fundraising organization solely dedicated to raising life-saving dollars in honor of transplant-needy children and young adults. 100% of each contribution made to COTA in honor of our patients helps meet transplant-related expenses. COTA’s services are free to our families, and gifts to COTA are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

COTA for Ethan Strong

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