Warning: This story may make you cry and draw you closer to God.
This is my feel good story of the day.
On June 5, every parent’s nightmare became a reality for Lafitte natives Ricky and Shannon Matherne. Their 14-month-old son Adam, slipped out of their home unnoticed as the family was getting ready to leave for their daughter’s softball game. They found him lifeless in the family pool three minutes later.
CPR was performed until EMS arrived and transported him to the local hospital where he was revived. He went 80 minutes without issuing a heartbeat on his own. It was after being baptized in the emergency room that Adam’s heart once again began to beat, his parents said.
This was a child the couple never imagined having. Here is the backstory.
Ricky and Shannon grew up together in Lafitte and were high school sweethearts. In fact, his mother attended her mother’s baby shower when she was expecting Shannon, and he was best friends with her brother Jay.
“Shannon stopped being ‘Jay’s little sister’ around 1991. I graduated from Fisher in 1992 and attended LSU the following fall. Shannon graduated in 1994 and joined me there,” Ricky said.
The two were married in Lafitte in December of 1995 and already knew they wanted a family.
“We tried for some time before Rickey III was conceived,” Ricky said, but despite warning about complications, Grace was on her way not long after, and finally Avery, a happy surprise, was born 14 and half months later. At that point, the Mathernes decided their family was complete.
Until Katrina, the couple maintained a home in Lafitte despite their work as certified professional landmen, which took them all over the country. After Katrina, they moved to Slidell, and then to Pennsylvania in 2009 where their family grew again.
“When Avery turned 10, I began to panic about how quickly they were growing up and I knew I wanted to have another baby,” Ricky said.
He jokingly brought the idea up to his wife, and was surprised when she gave it serious consideration.
The two ultimately decided to leave it in God’s hands, and only a month later they were expecting their youngest daughter, Lea.
“She was such a joy,” Ricky said, and while they worried about her not having a sibling close to her own age, they decided that would be it for them.
Fate had other plans however, and nine months after a tumultuous weekend away in New York where nothing went as planned, they welcomed Adam John into their family.
“Adam brought out the best in us all. His personality is infectious. He is the most lovable, happy, and adventurous baby. Watching the relationship develop between AJ and Lea has been one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed and it moves me every time I think about it. Our lives weren’t perfect, but our family was,” Ricky said.
He particularly cherishes the daily routine with AJ.
“I would come home from work, and after dinner it was his bath time – his favorite part of the day. I would tickle his belly with my beard while he shrieked with laughter. As soon as I stopped he would uncover his belly and wait until I did it again,” Ricky said.
June 5 threatened to take Adam’s laughter away for good.
AJ’s accident has left their family devastated, but with hope as well. After being rushed to the hospital in Altoona, AJ was flown to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh for five weeks, and then went The Children’s Home to begin rehabilitation for the brain injury caused by oxygen deficit.
Eventually the family came full circle, bringing AJ home to Louisiana and Dr. Paul Harch in Marrero, who specializes in hyperbaric oxygen treatments. The treatments are not covered by insurance, but they are accomplishing what the Mathernes were told would never happen.
“On June 5th, our son (clinically) died in my wife’s arms and was dead for 80 minutes before a dedicated team of doctors and God’s mercy brought him back to us,” Ricky said, “We were asked to consider his quality of life. We were told that AJ can’t see, hear, swallow, or recognize us, and that he would never breathe on his own or move meaningfully.”
The Mathernes felt differently — literally.
“That was the day he first squeezed our fingers and we choose to give him the time to heal,” he said. “Since then, AJ’s life has been a series of small miracles. He continues to make small steps forward and is currently breathing on his own, focusing with his eyes, moving his body, responding to voices and other stimuli, and most heartwarming, smiling from time to time.”
The fight continues.
Family members set up a GoFundMe account and have held several fundraisers to help Ricky and Shannon pay for the expensive treatments. They call their efforts “Adam’s Hope,” and their motto is ‘With every breath, we hope.” Another event is planned for Sept. 30 at the Jules Nunez Seafood Pavilion at the foot of the bridge in Lafitte. There will be music, food and beer, raffles, prizes, a silent auction, and games.
Ricky said the response has been overwhelming for them and that AJ would never be where he is now without it. They are hopeful that they may be able to purchase a hyperbaric chamber, so that AJ’s progress can continue in their own home.
So far, AJ has completed 15 of 40 planned treatments.
“He is our baby. He gets agitated, angry, sad, but he calms when we hold him. We believe that he can experience love and joys and thus lead a meaningful life,” Ricky said. “We will pursue any treatments available that can improve his quality of life.”
To learn more about “Adam’s Hope”, go to: https://goo.gl/nfPmWz.