Jonathan Chad Cardona, also affectionately known as “Baby J” was welcomed into the world by his first-time parents, Johnny and Tammy Cardona of Turlock on April 16 of this year.
While Tammy was pregnant the couple learned that Baby J had complex heart defects and Heterodoxy Syndrome, which causes the organs to grow on the wrong side of the torso cavity, thus causing defects in the heart, as in Baby J’s case.
“The doctors told us he wouldn’t live to be driven home from the hospital and he would have down syndrome as a result of the Heterodoxy,” said Tammy. “But he didn’t have down syndrome. He’s a little fighter, our super baby and an inspiration.”
Baby J was born six pounds, eight ounces and shortly after delivery at University of California, San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital, Baby J went into surgery.
The strong-willed infant did well and only staying in the Intensive Care Nursery for one week, returning home to be with his mother for her birthday.
Sadly, on July 12 difficulties began to arise when doctors discovered his oxygen saturations dropped and his brain was not receiving the necessary oxygen. He was airlifted to UCSF for emergency open-heart surgery and repairs were made.
Super Baby J was back at home with his loving parents within a week again, yet Baby J’s “adventure” had only just begun. On Aug. 11 Tammy began to notice he wasn’t eating, the next day his breathing became labored and by Aug. 12 he was airlifted again to UCSF with signs of congestive heart failure.
On Wednesday Baby J went in for a further procedure to drain fluid from his heart and remains in the Intensive Care Unit, with his mother by his side 24 hours a day.
In order to stay with her Baby J, who is now 13 pounds, two ounces, Tammy has not been able to return to work, where she is a Member Services Rep for Valley First Credit Union. Johnny, who works in Modesto at Stanislaus Farm Supply as a large equipment operator, has been driving back and forth from UCSF when possible.
The challenge has created a tremendous strain on the family’s financial situation even though they both have insurance through their work and a separate insurance plan for Baby J.
“The bills are well over $1 million now and we are working with Kaiser to get them paid but we’ll still end up paying some,” explained Tammy. “But we are more passionate about raising awareness of congenital heart disease. Currently at UCSF there are eight beds [for congenital heart disease patients] and six of those beds are children from the Valley between Sacramento and Modesto.”
She said doctors and researchers are currently working on a study to learn why there has been a rise in babies born in the Valley with heart defects.
Tammy has authored a Facebook page, Baby J’s Adventure, detailing daily, if not hourly progress for Baby J.
“We call it his adventure because later it’s something we can look back at and reflect on what he went thru,” Tammy said. “We are staying very positive.”
On the family’s GoFundMe page, they write, “We are asking for help to raise money for the family to aid in medical expenses and normal daily expenses during this hard time. No amount is too small, no help will be turned away.”
This Saturday, Aug. 23, Tammy and Johnny are having a Fundraiser Yard Sale to help raise money for Baby J’s medical expenses from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 745 W. Olive Ave. in Turlock.
If you would like to donate items for the Yard Sale such as small appliances, household items, clothes, electronics, etc, call Sonya at 531-6670.