NEW ORLEANS – Ochsner Health System is proud to announce "The Jarrius JJ Robertson Fund" – a fund dedicated to providing families of pediatric liver transplant patients with financial assistance for unexpected expenses. Jarrius, or JJ, will be honored with the Jimmy V Perseverance Award at the 25th ESPYS award ceremony in Los Angeles, California tonight.
JJ was born with biliary atresia, a chronic liver disease he was diagnosed with at a very early age. It is a condition where the bile ducts don't form correctly during fetal development, causing the liver to malfunction. At just one-year-old, he received his first liver transplant. Years later, he experienced complications and was in desperate need for a second transplant.
In 2015, JJ captured the attention of the New Orleans Saints during their annual Christmas visit at Ochsner Hospital for Children. Since then, he's been dubbed a Saints Superfan and has used his newfound fame to push his message, "it takes lives to save lives," in effort to encourage organ donation.
On April 30, 2017, JJ finally received the long-awaited liver he hoped for via a transplant performed by Ochsner Multi-Organ Transplant Institute surgeons at Ochsner Hospital for Children – the only accredited pediatric liver transplant program in Louisiana.
"Transplant truly is a team sport and couldn't be done without the tremendous generosity of organ donors that result in our ability to offer life-saving opportunities every day," said Dr. Mariastella Serrano, Section Head, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Ochsner Hospital for Children. "We are pleased that our dedication and efforts make a difference to so many, giving them a new outlook on life, but help is always needed for these families that go through so much with their kids. 'The Jarrius JJ Robertson Fund' is just one of many ways to help support pediatric transplant families."
Jarrius' family knows better than most the stress and financial burden that chronic illness can place on a family. His parents wanted a way to help other families who are faced with those overwhelming financial challenges.
"There are many hurdles a family must face when waiting on a donor which is why we established this fund,"
said Jordy Robertson, Jarrius' father. "I hope with the attention my son has received, it will encourage others to sign up to be organ donors and donate to help families facing the same challenges we have faced."
With more than 17,000 patients nationwide on the liver waiting list, only 6,000 transplants are performed each year, leaving children at a disadvantage due to the shortage of small pediatric donors. One organ donor has the potential to save up to nine lives. They might also be able to restore sight to two people through tissue donation. If they are able to donate tissue, one donor has the potential to improve the lives of another 50 – 75 people.
Visit www.ochsner.org/jarrius to donate to "The Jarrius JJ Robertson Fund."
Click here for more information on how to become an organ donor
Ochsner Health System is Louisiana's largest non-profit, academic, healthcare system. Driven by a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate, coordinated clinical and hospital patient care is provided across the region by Ochsner's 29 owned, managed and affiliated hospitals and more than 80 health centers and urgent care centers. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a "Best Hospital" across three specialty categories caring for patients from all 50 states and more than 80 countries worldwide each year. Ochsner employs more than 18,000 employees and over 1,100 physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties, and conducts more than 600 clinical research studies. Ochsner Health System is proud to be a tobacco-free environment. For more information, please visit ochsner.org and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.