Beating the Odds: Local boy overcomes medical condition

Photo provided by staff.
Friday, June 27, 2014 - 4:27pm

No expectant mom wants to hear her baby will die. That was the news one local mom got at 20 weeks pregnant, but now, eight years later, her seven-year-old son is beating all the odds.

When Doris Heckert's son Jackson was born, doctors told her he would likely never be able to walk, but now he's doing that and much more.

Fun, outgoing, and smart are just some words to describe Jackson Heckert.

He has some big dreams. He wants to be a pilot, but he was born with something most people have never heard of.

"Because I have Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita," Jackson explained.

Or AMC for short. It basically means the curving of the joints. It's rare, only one in 3,000 children have it.

"It's so different, and it's so varied across the board. You can't just look at Jackson and put him in a box and say 'he's going to X,Y, or Z,'" said Doris Heckert, Jackson's mom.

Doris, Jackson's mom, said he was not even expected to live, and some doctors even suggested she consider abortion. One in three children born with AMC don't make it.

"For two weeks, my husband and I would research. We would go home from work, and we would sit in the middle of our living room floor, and we would just cry," Doris said. "They said 'His knees are bent. His feet are clubbed. His hands are underneath his arms, and his arms aren't straight.'"

But that didn't stop Jackson's parents.

"We were told when he was three-months-old that if he lived, he would never get out of a crib. We took that, and we didn't believe it. We didn't take it," Doris said.

Instead they took their faith and made sure Jackson got what he needed. They have seen him through several surgeries and countless hours of physical therapy, and now Jackson is walking. However, there are always questions.

"The one thing that I hate is when people say 'What's wrong with him?' There's nothing wrong with him. Nothing," Doris said.

Of course, there are other challenges.

"It's fighting the systems to get what he needs and what he deserves. That's the hardest part. It's not watching him grow. It's not watching him learn," Doris said.

Doris and Jackson go around the country and share their story to help inspire other families battling the same things.

"It's helping other families to figure out how we did things, what worked for us, what didn't work for us. It's really just paying it forward," Doris said.

The family is preparing for the national AMC conference next week in Minnesota.

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