Kansas City,
11:27 AM

We're all in this together: Jack's Story

Tiffany Palmer gets it. She understands the weariness people feel from months of disruption wrought by the threat of Covid-19.

It’s just that for Tiffany, RN, BSN, C-NPT, Hospital Shift Supervisor, that threat is very close to home: her son, Jack.

Jack was born with a severe heart defect, and in May 2018 at age 4 months, underwent heart and double lung transplants.

“He’s doing well – a happy 2 1/2-year-old,” Tiffany said. “But he is severely immunocompromised, at very high risk to contract any virus.

“You don’t know who you’re around who might be affected, so we take every precaution, and hope and pray others do as well.”In warm-weather months, they go for walks and spend plenty of time playing in the back yard. In pre-pandemic winters, they have isolated at home beyond clinic visits such as an every-three-week outpatient infusion. And when Jack’s 4-year-old brother starts pre-kindergarten next year, Tiffany will teach him at home to avoid family members’ exposure to whatever ills he might bring home from school.

And they all – adults and kids alike – wear masks. But don’t take that as any indication the Palmers live in fear.

“We’ve just adapted over the past 2 ½ years. Jack is our little miracle, and he has fought too hard to live to do otherwise,” Tiffany said.

These days, she also works to help others understand the stakes for families like hers. In April, when it was clear even a relatively small percentage of people contracting the coronavirus could become seriously ill, she posted on Facebook some videos of Jack undergoing treatment for two other viral infections he’d contracted last year.

“For those of you who have never watched a loved one struggle to breathe due to a virus, here you go,” she wrote. “I share these with you now because some of you aren’t taking this new virus seriously. This virus doesn’t discriminate, and I pray none of you have to see your loved one struggle to breathe, struggle to survive… like I have.

“Stay home. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face.”

And wear a mask.