Boy who received liver transplant gets help from Flying Pig Marathon team

The Flying Pig marathon is just around the corner and thousands of runners prepping for the big day by putting-in their final miles for the week.

One of the teams running in this year's Pig is more than 100 members strong. They are called "Jogging For Jonathan".

Local company Paycor ponied-up $250s for each 4-person team they could get together.

They hope to raise the half million dollars Jonathan needs toward medical expenses following a liver transplant he had several months ago.

Jonathan Voorhees is almost two, but has endured more surgeries in his short life than many adults.

His family and friends are putting their feet in motion to help the toddler, now that he's on the mend.

Jonathan turns two next week and there was a point in his life, not too long ago, his parents weren't sure he'd even make it this far.

But today, he is a happy, bubbly baby, terrorizing his older brother and sisters.

He is also a real success story for the Children's Organ Transplant Association.

To see Jonathan Voorhees now, you'd never know how sick this little boy was.

"I mean, we really came close to losing him, he was so sick," said his mom, Amber Voorhees.

"Prior to the transplant, he had lots and lots of complications, with his liver disease getting worse and worse and worse," she said.

Jonathan was jaundiced. Now, he gets blood work done every week to check his liver enzymes. Prior to surgery, the numbers were not good.

"They would be up in the thousands," his mom said. "Where they're supposed to be like 30."

They painfully watched their son's health deteriorate, as they waited on the transplant list.

"Essentially you have to," Amber Voorhees said. "The way it works is you have to get sicker and sicker to move up on the list."

Jonathan got the liver of a child slightly bigger than him. They never knew the identity of the child who made the ultimate donation.

"And they actually were not able to close they call it his fascia," Amber Voorhees said. "They weren't able to close his muscle."

That was, until he basically grew into his new liver.

"That's my big belly," she joked lifting Jonathan's shirt to reveal a Mercedes-Benz-shaped scar on his abdomen. "Where're your choo choo tracks?"

He's had two major surgeries and countless follow-up procedures for rejection issues with the new liver. He was badly jaundiced, but his color has returned.

"He's great, he's great," Amber Voorhees said. "That came back within 2 days after the transplant."

"That was definitely the ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate gift, and we are very appreciative," said Jonathan's grandfather Bill Voorhees. "There's not a day that goes by that we're not thankful."

"The best match was a size match, which means a small child, which was hard, really hard," his mother said.

It was tough knowing parents somewhere, were suffering a loss, giving their child life.

"You must be so grateful," we said to Amber. "You're going to get me on the news crying," she laughed as tears began to well-up in her eyes. "I am very much so," she said.

Jonathan dumped-out a huge toy box on the floor among his big brother William and big sisters Elizabeth and Savannah. He playfully terrorizes his siblings and is into everything.

"It's not just the surgery, then he's all magically better," his mother is quick to point out.

The follow-up expenses last a lifetime. So, they got help from a group called COTA or the Children's Organ Transplant Association. Also, some a big helping hand from grandfather Bill, who tirelessly leads a big running group in this year's Flying Pig Marathon.

"Anyone who joins our cause," Voorhees said. "We get a percentage of the entry fee and they get a reduction on the entry fee, so it's a mutual benefit."

Plus, local company Paycor, is paying $250 for every 4-person relay on their team.

"So the money goes to the Children's Organ Transplant Association and what they do is essentially hold the money for any medical expenses that insurance doesn't cover for the rest of his life," his mother said.

There are many side-effects of the anti-rejection drugs, but they hope to have Jonathan at the starting line for his very first Flying Piglet* race this weekend.

His grandfather knows his grandson is in good shape from running after his brother and sisters.

Jonathan has his very own page, you can see how his stomach looked after the myriad of procedures.


To learn more about the Children's Organ Transplant Association and how you can help, just log onto this site below.


By the way, Voorhees said his team could always use a few more runners for the Flying Pig. Still plenty of time to jump in on the fun and help out little Jonathan.

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