Harrison is just 6 years old but has already undergone open heart surgery, two liver transplants, an appendectomy, tethered cord surgery, and surgical procedures to correct a gastrointestinal malformation. He was born with a rare genetic condition commonly known as cat-eye syndrome, or CES. This chromosomal abnormality is extremely variable, with presentations including craniofacial, cardiac, renal, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary congenital defects. In Harrison’s case, it effected multiple organ systems, requiring several years of various surgeries to correct.

His local doctors at Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte were used to referring his family to specialists for the complex surgeries he needed, and normally they could drive home after he recovered. However, one particular procedure called for a 14-day stay at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and the post-operative recovery would be very painful and not allow for long periods of sitting, ruling out travel by car. Harrison and his family needed air transportation and began exploring their options. His mother detailed the struggle of planning for this two-week trip on her blog, writing:

“Planning the surgery trip to Cincinnati has been nothing short of stressful and full of obstacles both physical and financially:

  1. We found out the trip was going to require a much longer stay than anticipated.
  2. Longer stay meant more financially required as far as lodging and meals
  3. Ronald McDonald House let us know that they will only allow us to stay 4 of the 14 days
  4. Surgery would require flights since Harrison will be unable to sit for an extended period of time. Thus increasing the overall expense of the trip.

When I began calling different organizations who offered free flights to children with medical needs, we were turned away twice for different reasons and two others didn’t service our area. Needless to say, the panic set in. Time was closing in and money did not start growing on trees. Then when I was just at my peak of stress, one of Harrison’s case workers stopped by. I was relaying my worries. She then informed me of another organization that helps with flights. That night I applied and I’m so happy to say that a week later our flights were booked by this organization called Children’s Flight of Hope. We are so blessed to have had this opportunity.”

CFOH was able to provide flights for Harrison and his mother to Cincinnati so he could receive the complex surgery he needed. We were honored to be able to fly them home as well, so that Harrison could continue his healing journey in as little pain as possible.

Stories of Hope

The greatest reward for CFOH is hearing the stories of the families weve helped.

They are stories of courage, of compassion, of love, and - most certainly - of hope.