Mom of son with compromised immune system asks parents to keep their sick kids home

Jude Hayes after surgery for his heart defect, 17 months ago. (Photo: Courtney Hayes via Facebook)
Jude Hayes after surgery for his heart defect, 17 months ago. (Photo: Courtney Hayes via Facebook)

A mother has shared a powerful plea to fellow parents on Facebook: Please keep your sick children at home whenever possible.

Courtney Hayes clarifies that her request isn’t meant to shame other parents. She understands that everyone has responsibilities and that people can’t “change their entire lives around to protect” her son. She understands that colds are just colds; however, her son, Jude, has a compromised immune system, and he is “fighting for his life” some days.

Working parents may have to still take their child to daycare, grocery shopping must be done, doctor appointments must be attended,” Hayes shared. “But the optional activities? The ones that CAN be avoided? The pool, the museum, the park, the therapies, the aquarium, the restaurant … I do feel those can be sacrificed for a few more days.”

Jude, who is 18 months old, is well, but at 4 days old he underwent surgery to treat a rare heart defect called truncus arteriosus. He was also born with a genetic disorder called DiGeorge syndrome (or 22q11.2 deletion syndrome), which is the result of a small part of chromosome 22 being missing. This causes heart defects and a weakened immune system, among other complications.

Because Jude often gets sick and stays sick for long periods of time, he and his family typically stay home, but Courtney wants more for her son. She wants him to be able to go out into the world and to have fun every once in a while when he’s feeling healthy.

Recently, Courtney and her husband, Josh, took Jude to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, hoping to give him a fun adventure before the “cold and flu season really kicks up.”

Together, they repeatedly washed Jude’s hands, wiped down every surface he would come into contact with, and steered him away from other children. Then a girl walked up to Jude and shared a smile before she accidentally coughed into his face. “Two days later, he woke up with that same horrible cough.”

She continued: “For the past 7 nights, I’ve been holding my baby as he screams, chokes, coughs and vomits up mucous all night long, and all I can think about is that girl and wonder why her parents chose to take her out when she was clearly ill. I regret sacrificing Jude’s health for a few hours of fun, but doesn’t he deserve fun? Doesn’t every child deserve fun?”

Courtney, who is pregnant with her second child, knows that Jude’s well-being is her and Josh’s responsibility, but she still hopes that her message reaches other parents and that they can understand her request.

Maybe, if you wait it out and let your child recover before taking them out, maybe you will protect a medically complex child that has been through hell and back and just wants to see the world,” she wrote. “I never would have known this had I not been in my position. I am not blaming anyone … but I’m trying to spread awareness for my son and all of my son’s dear friends who are fighting to live just as hard as he is.”

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