Baby Jackson is finally home, and doing much better

Reported by: Julie Tremmel

Videographer: B. DiGiovanni
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Updated: 10/08/2012 2:52 pm

Late last year FOX23 News introduced you to a Johnstown baby with a rare skin condition that threatened his life.

Back in March then 7-month-old Jackson Baldwin's skin was so thin and fragile, that doctors compared it to butterfly wings.

But about three months ago, a Minnesota surgical team decided to perform a risky, cutting edge, life-saving procedure on the baby, and now, he's back home.

"It was a pretty emotional time, but eventually Jackson got better, and just kept getting better and better and now he's back home!" Jackson's mother Jessica Valik said.

That means Jackson will now go down in world history as the youngest child to have ever gone through a bone marrow transplant for the condition Epidermolysis Bullosa - and survived.

"There was another four-month-old little girl who had the bone marrow transplant, but she didn't make it due to complications from E.B. (Epidermolysis Bullosa)," Jessica said.

Before the transplant, baby Jackson was sick, in pain, and covered with blisters and bandages.

But several months after undergoing a cutting edge, difficult, life saving bone marrow transplant in Minnesota, the baby is now stronger and healthier, his skin is on its way to being blister-free.

Jessica says she's simply elated that her baby no longer has to be covered from head to toe with uncomfortable sores and dressings.

"And now he's finally able to experience the wind on his hair on his legs. He's able to experience a raindrop on his leg, or even just for me to touch his on his leg, it's great that he's able to just experience that now," she said.

But it was a painful, frightening, bumpy road getting to this point after the risky transplant and the toxic chemotherapy treatments.

"During chemo, that was probably the worst week, and then the week after that. Jackson was in and out of the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) and he had stopped breathing on occasion. It was pretty scary. It was probably the worst thing to go through, and to be there and watch him go through that. As a mother, it hurts," Jessica said.

Welling up with tears she said, "I was watching Jackson, and holding his breathing tube for him, not knowing if he was going to make it in the next ten minutes or not, so it was pretty hard," she said.

"They had to, in theory, just knock out his immune system so that his body could accept the donor cells. So anything, even a runny nose or a simple cold, could have killed him," she said.

But baby Jackson did make it through, and a clip of video Jessica shot of baby Jackson taking his first steps in a special walker proves the one-year-old is doing much better now.

"Jackson is a strong boy. He just pushed right through, and he's doing good," she said.

The doting mom says she would never have come this far if not for the help and support from complete strangers.

"They sent cards, care packages, supplies, just anything and everything. And any little tiny thing that they did helped, even just a note to say, 'Jessica, I'm thinking about you. Hang in there!' was good," she said.

"I'm so grateful. Like I said, if it wasn't for the whole community pulling together, Jackson and I would have never been able to make it out to Minnesota. I wouldn't have been able to stay with him, and be there every step of the way," Jessica said.

And Jessica is also beyond grateful to the donor who agreed to have her bone marrow extracted to save Jackson's life.

"She went through the process of going under sedation, having bone marrow extracted from her, and then just giving it away not knowing… So I just want to tell her that she saved my son. He's here today because of her and only her. And if wasn't for her, I don't think I would have been able to come back here with Jackson," she said.

But baby Jackson still needs to travel back to that Minnesota hospital once a month for the next five months to get more donor T-cell injections to boost his immune system.

And that means the family still needs your help.

There are two sites you can search to find out how to donate.

Just click here, and here for the direct links.

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bellmont - 10/7/2012 2:49 PM
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Thank god his is home
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