Every loving mother and father cherishes their children’s health above anything else in the world, and none more so than Turlock residents Johnny and Tammy Cardona, the parents of four-month-old Jonathan Chad Cardona, also affectionately known as “Baby J.”
Baby J, who was born with complex heart defects and Heterodoxy Syndrome, which causes organs to grow on the wrong side of the torso cavity, has spent much of his young life in hospitals treating his condition and has endured two open-heart surgeries.
His mother Tammy Cardona, who has sat by his bedside 24/7, has chronicled his journey, dubbed “Baby J’s Adventure” on Facebook.
“We call it his adventure because later it’s something we can look back at and reflect on what he went through,” Tammy Cardona said. “We are staying very positive.”
On August 30, Baby J’s Adventure went homeward bound and he spent his first night home in Turlock since being admitted to University of California, San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital on Aug. 12 following difficulties with his second open-heart surgery.
During his time at Benioff, hundreds of TurlockCitynews.com and Central Valley TV readers responded to his parent’s request for prayers, positive thoughts and monetary donations to help the young couple through the difficult time in their lives.
Even more uplifting, $9,651 has been donated to the couple via Baby J’s GoFundMe page (including a $5,000 anonymous donation) and a community yard sale where the Turlock Fire Department donated $500 and Turlock resident Toby Bushee gifted the family with a new set of tires for their vehicle.
“It’s so much more than we could ever imagine,” said Tammy. “Everyone’s generosity was emotionally and spiritually overwhelming. We feel so blessed to be a part of such an amazing community.”
Tammy Cardona is a Member Services Rep for Valley First Credit Union. Johnny Cardona, who works in Modesto at Stanislaus Farm Supply as a large equipment operator, had been driving back and forth from UCSF when possible.
“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 Cardona. “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.”
Ashley Ann messaged TurlockCityNews.com on Facebook, "We would like to thank you for sharing our story! The Turlock Fire Department read your article and wrote a check for $500 to Baby J. Firefighters Tony Nascimento and Cameron Kaiser presented Jonathan the check."
Submitted by Ashley Ann/TurlockCityNews.com 08-23-14