Elizabeth and Jaydon traveled to Arkansas Children’s hospital in Little Rock, where Jaydon was placed on a priority list to receive a donor heart through the hospital’s special heart unit. They were told it could take six months to a year before a heart would be available.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth’s husband, Stephen Guillen, stayed behind in Garrard County and continued to earn money for the family. Friends of the Guillens also coordinated a special event titled “Jammin’ for Jaydon” to raise money to help with cost-of-living expenses in Arkansas. The event featured a motorcycle ride, an all-day concert, a raffle drawing and a silent auction.
“We just expected it to be just a little bitty thing,” Stephen said of the event, which he said wound up drawing quite a big crowd. The Guillens said they are extremely grateful to people like Erica Martin and Tommy and Gwen Mitchell, who made the event possible. The money raised was incredibly helpful, they said.
Then, on Aug. 23, Elizabeth gave her husband a call to let him know Jaydon would be going into surgery that night.
“She called about 6 (p.m.) to tell us they had a heart,” Stephen said. “We were on the road by 8 and on the way to Arkansas.”
As Stephen and Elizabeth’s dad drove through the night, surgeons operated from 9:30 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. on Jaydon, replacing his heart with the slightly smaller donor heart. Elizabeth said she doesn’t know anything about the donor, except for the fact that it had to have been an infant because of the size.
During the nine-hour surgery, Elizabeth slept some in the private family room and received hourly updates on the surgeons’ progress. One word sums up those hours for Elizabeth — “long.”
Stephen, with Elizabeth’s dad, probably crossed into Arkansas at about the same time Jaydon’s new heart was going in his chest. By the time they arrived at the hospital, Jaydon was out of surgery and starting to come back out of sedation.
“He was out 20 minutes after his surgery wanting his cup,” Elizabeth said. “He loves his cup.”
In all, Jaydon waited 42 days in Arkansas for his new heart.
Today, Jaydon still faces problems because of his health history, and he always will. He takes two medicines to prevent his body from rejecting his new heart and continues physical therapy he was undergoing before the transplant. He’s also developmentally delayed — despite being four years old now, he only started walking well by himself last month, Elizabeth said.
But Jaydon is alive and seems to have a bright future. His family now lives in Junction City so they can be closer to the hospital and Elizabeth’s mom. Besides walking “all over the place,” Elizabeth said Jaydon loves his Power Wheels and toy trucks.
Jaydon has a 2-year-old sister and a 7-year-old step-sister who Stephen said will always have his back.
“Neither one of them will let anything happen to him,” he said.
Jaydon also has a community of friends in Garrard County who were there when he needed them the most. To those people, the Guillens had just two words: