APPLEGATE, Ore. — The young son of a local volunteer firefighter is recovering from emergency open heart surgery in Portland, and now the family is looking for support from the community to help pay for expenses during the ordeal.
Applegate Valley Fire District posted about one of their "most active volunteer firefighters," Arlan Cempa, on Thursday. It was Cempa's 2-year-old son Jaxon who had to undergo heart surgery this week.
"His ordeal began with a fever. His mother took him to the doctor who at that time thought it was just a cold," said GoFundMe organizer and Jaxon's grandmother Elaine Shelley. "Four days later went to the hospital and they took a blood test sent him home."
By the next day, Shelley said, the test results found bacteria in Jaxon's blood. His heart rate spiked and he went into sepsis. He was airlifted to a hospital in Portland and doctors found evidence of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and bacteria in his heart, as well as a mass in his aorta that seemed to be releasing bacteria into his bloodstream.
Jaxon underwent open heart surgery on Monday and is recovering at the hospital, Applegate Fire said.
"His father Arlan Cempa who is a Firefighter has not been able to go to work and his mother Kelly who just started a new job as a realtor has not either," wrote Shelley. "The financial hardship they will have to endure as well as the unimaginable fear for Jaxon’s well being is very overwhelming. They would never ask for help but I will please please help me in my desire to help."
So far the GoFundMe page for the Cempa family has raised more than $11,000 of the $15,000 goal.