The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

Mikey Dunson: Toddler's wish granted 05.02.2007

Written by David Green.

By JEFF PICKELL

Stepping into the Dunson household, it would be hard to gather that the four year old  Morenci resident delightedly slapping his knees as he watches a children’s DVD has endured 11 major surgeries. Or that he’s spent much of his life in the intensive care unit.

Philip Dunson, Jr.—or Mikey as he is called affectionately—is animated and happy. He’s outgoing and friendly to guests. He knows his ABCs and 1-2-3s. He can slap a mean high five. He also suffers from a number of congenital conditions that prevent him from living a normal life.

When Morenci resident Teresa Dunson was 15 weeks pregnant with Mikey, he was diagnosed with Shone’s Syndrome, which is characterized by multiple anomalies on the left side of the heart. Chief among those is drastically reduced size.

At the time of the diagnosis, Teresa’s doctors in Cleveland told her that the left side of Mikey’s heart would probably never grow to more than 10 percent of the size of the right side. It was suggested she terminate the pregnancy.

dunson.disney

She refused.

“I don’t believe in that and I decided that if God was going to take him he would have to do it after he was born,” she said. Today, she stands by her decision. The left side of Mikey’s heart grew to 70 percent the size of the right side. The condition might be more manageable were it not that Mikey also suffers from primary intestinal pseudoobstruction (IPO).

As a result of this medically puzzling chronic condition, Mikey’s intestines are unable to process solid food and he must be nourished intravenously.

Thanks to advances in medical technology, such as a tube feeding system, the Dunson family has been able to share a life of many joys, albeit one punctuated by periods of intense stress.

TREATMENT—While Shone’s Syndrome is a severe condition, IPO is a much more dangerous one. There is only one treatment for primary IPO—bowel replacement. At this point, the Dunsons have opted not to pursue this treatment because the procedure is long, painful and often unsuccessful, and there is a very high probability of the body rejecting the new organ.

Unfortunately, the only alternative isn’t appealing either.

Currently, Mikey receives nutrients through three tubes—one that feeds into his heart, one that feeds into his stomach, and one that feeds into a segment of the small intestine called the jejunum.

Food consists of a $1,200 per unit liquid called TPN, which, when used on children, destroys their liver. It is unknown how long Mikey can subsist on TPN before his liver fails, but he will eventually succumb to it if another method of feeding him is not developed, Teresa said.

Until last year, Mikey was dangerously vulnerable to complications arising from the feeding system. Periodically, harmful bacteria would travel from inside his body to the point where his heart feeding tube entered his body, causing septic infections that usually landed him in intensive care.

Six times, the infections have six times caused Mikey to suffer a condition called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). During a DIC episode, many small blood clots develop throughout the cardiovascular system, which decreases the supply platelets and clotting agents necessary to control bleeding. This puts patients at a severe risk of bleeding to death.

“This is something that does adults in,” Teresa said. “It’s terrible. To think that Mikey has gotten it six times and bounced back each time is amazing. He’s an amazing kid.”

Last October, doctors began to employ a measure to prevent infection. The tube leading to Mikey’s heart now splits into two tubes just outside his body, which are used alternately every two days. The tube that is not in use is filled with ethanol, which has so far effectively killed off the infection-causing bacteria.

“The ethanol has been a miracle,” Teresa said.

EXPENSES—It would seem prudent for one of the parents of a child like Mikey to leave the workforce to be a full-time care provider, but the Dunsons don’t have that option. Without employer-provided insurance, they would lack the money necessary to keep their child alive.

“The insurance company has just spent millions and millions of dollars on Mikey,” Teresa said. “I can see why some insurance companies would have a million-dollar cap.”

Philip is a master technician diesel mechanic. Teresa works as a primary care technician at Flower Hospital in Sylvania and Mikey is covered under her insurance.

Horror stories often circulate about the stinginess of insurance companies, but Teresa said hers has been wonderful. So has the staff at Flower Hospital, which allows her extended leaves during Mikey’s bad periods.

“If I worked any other job in this whole country, I would’ve been fired by now,” she said.

Still, both she and Philip have worked when Mikey was in intensive care.

“I have probably been looked down upon by others for working when my child was in the ICU, but you do what you have to,” Teresa said.

Even with Teresa’s insurance, the co-pays on Mikey’s 17 prescriptions add up to a substantial sum, which has led them to buy supplemental children’s special health care insurance from the state at the cost of $50 a month.

WISH—As a result of Shone’s Syndrome and IPO, Mikey suffers from physical and mental developmental disabilities. He is missing ribs. Some vertebrae are fused. Due to an apraxia, he can’t communicate well verbally and relies on a system of gestures to converse and express needs. His weakened immune system and another complex condition prevent him from interacting with other children.

Despite his misfortunes, Mikey is fully functional in the enjoyment department, which was made quite evident recently during a trip to Orlando, Fla., provided by the Kids Wish Network (KWN).

Late last year, Mikey’s grandmother received a call from a KWN worker seeking donations and suggestions for children who may be eligible to have a wish granted. Of course Mikey’s name was mentioned, and about four months later, Teresa returned from work to find two giant parcels on her front porch.

They contained several toys for Mikey, as well as travel arrangements for the family of three to spend five days and four nights in Orlando. The trip lasted from March 21 to March 25, and throughout it, the Dunsons were astonished by the generosity of all the organizations involved.

For example, Teresa was concerned about getting Mikey’s liquid meals onto the plane, so she phoned a week ahead of time to inform security of the family’s circumstances. When they arrived, the airport head of security escorted them to the plane.

In another instance of generosity, the hotel the Dunsons stayed at upgraded the family to an executive suite to provide access to a refrigerator to keep the TPN cool.

The family was furnished with breakfast and a dinner at a different restaurant each night, as well as passes to Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios.

It was, in many ways, a tiring and taxing trip, said Teresa, but both sets of grandparents came along to help out and to share the enjoyment of the unique experience.

What was the best part of the trip?

Definitely when Mikey got to meet Barney the dinosaur at Universal Studios. He lavished his hero with hugs and kisses.

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