FAIRFIELD (FOX19) - The parents of a Cincinnati-area 6-year-old boy who died from cancer appealed to Gov. Mike DeWine for their newborn baby’s surgery that is blocked by the state’s ban on “non-essential” medical procedures due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Weston Walter Herbert was born on March 14. It was a miracle and a blessing to Emily and Wally Herbert, who are still reeling from the tragic death of their son, Walter “Superbubz” Herbert, in October 2017. Superbubz’s valiant cancer battle inspired the community to rally around him and his family in a variety of ways.
Weston’s parents announced his joyous arrival last month on Facebook, posting that he is #HEAVENSENT - but he needs surgery.
“Our son has club feet and they are telling us it’s non-essential but every day that he doesn’t get treatment it’s going to make it harder for him to recover from this. So we believe it is essential," Wally Herbert told FOX19 NOW and reached out to us for help.
They tried to be patient amid the coronavirus crisis, but they struggled as any concerned parent would be to understand why their son’s surgery was considered “non-essential."
They decided to reach out to the governor and then shared with us the letter Emily Herbert wrote DeWine earlier Wednesday:
"Good evening Governor. I hope this message finds you well. I’d like to start by saying I think you’re doing a fine job considering the circumstances that surround us.
"My largest concern is keeping my 4 children safe and healthy. My second concern is getting the proper treatment for my newborn who was born with bilateral clubbed feet. Casting typically begins at a week or two of age.
"Due to the recent shutdown of elective surgeries my son has been unable to receive proper treatment. The longer we wait the more “delayed” my child may become.
"We are more then willing and able to wear masks when completing appointments. Hospitals and doctors offices can schedule patients far enough apart that we won’t be in contact before or after our appointments.
“Please take into consideration the children who are in need of these “nonessential” surgeries. To the parents these procedures are extremely essential. Thank you for your time and consideration.”
After FOX19 NOW reached out to DeWine Wednesday night, the father of eight personally got involved by calling Emily and Wally Herbert and pledging his support.
Understanding the urgency of the situation, DeWine told them he would contact the hospital Thursday.
“Well, if that was my child, obviously I would want the procedure done whenever the doctor told me that medically that was appropriate and I certainly wouldn’t want to wait," DeWine told FOX19 NOW.
The ban on non-essential procedures to preserve precious personal protective equipment and hospital space, was not meant to block surgeries such as this, he said.
DeWine also said the ban, which is in place through May 1, appears to be working.
“Ohioans have really been great and we don’t have the surge. We don’t think we are going to have it," DeWine told FOX19 NOW.
"We’ve had about a week of flat admissions to the hospital. In other words, they are about the same so that’s a very, very good sign.”
Wally Herbert said he and his wife already thought DeWine has been doing a “fantastic” job handling the coronavirus pandemic in Ohio and trying to keep cases to a minimum.
Now, they are grateful to him for personally getting involved and trying to make a difference.
“We definitely think he’s helped that curve,” Wally Herbert said. "We’ve done everything in our power to stay inside, go to the grocery store when need be, things of that nature. Yeah, he’s done a great job.”
The governor told FOX19 NOW Ohioans have done a great job heeding orders to stay at home to try to keep the virus from spreading.
It’s going so well, DeWine said he met earlier Wednesday with hospital leaders and gave them a week to come up with a plan to slowly allow people to get surgeries and procedures they’ve postponed due to the coronavirus ban.
Emily Herbert thanked the governor and FOX19 NOW in a Facebook post Wednesday night:
"This evening I decided to send a heartfelt and sincere email to Governor Mike Dewine in regards to Weston being denied treatment for his bilateral clubbed feet due to Covid-19. The casting and surgery is considered “nonessential”. Little did I know it would result in a phone call from Dewine himself. He and my husband, Wally Herbert, spoke for about 6 mins.
"Let me just say he is an extremely understanding and very personable governor. He not only agreed that my child’s treatment was essential but he also knew who Superbubz was. That just warms our hearts!
"This all started with our email being forwarded to Jennifer Edwards Baker, followed by a Fox19 interview with Rob Williams, and a personal text to Governor DeWine from Tricia Macke. The Governor is going to look into getting not only our child, but many others, the proper treatment during this time.
“Thank you to everyone who took the time to listen and we hope this will help all patients get the necessary treatment moving forward.”