On July 1, nine-year-old Cranbrook local Jax Shannon had an accident while getting ready to have a bonfire. After being rushed to hospital, he was flown to the BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver to receive treatment for first and second degree burns and tissue, nerve and muscle damage.
An extended family member has organized a Gofundme page in order to help support Jax and his family through this extremely difficult time while they are relocated in Vancouver, travelling back and forth from Cranbrook and being forced to miss work.
Melanie Kilpatrick, Jax’s mom’s cousin, reached out to the Townsman to share his story and fundraising campaign.
“He’s recovering right now, he had a long surgery yesterday so we were all obviously quite anxious about that,” Kilpatrick said. “He’s definitely fighting some fevers and different things that kick off as a result of having your body in such a state. So he’s stable and we’re looking forward to hearing how the skin grafts are taking.”
Kilpatrick said that Jax is stable and the family is now looking forward to hearing how the skin grafts are taking. He had to undergo over three hours of surgery, with doctors removing skin from other parts of his body.
Jax suffered severe burns on eight to 12 per cent of his body with tissue damage to his back, torso, armpit and arm. After the initial surgeries, Jax has a long road of recovery ahead, that will involve physiotherapy, specific medical equipment and counselling.
“He has to remain very immobile and I don’t know how long that is but it’s a big part of the recovery,” Kilpatrick said. “So it’s pretty rough. His mom and his dad and … all his siblings are in Vancouver with him now.”
Kilpatrick is currently located in Victoria and said she will be heading to Vancouver soon to visit him and bring him a Spiderman comic book. Despite the trauma he’s experienced, the Kilpatrick says the young man has a remarkable disposition about everything.
“My cousin tells me that she can’t believe his spirit,” she said. “He’s been so funny and her and I were talking one day and we both started to cry a little bit and he’s in the room in the hospital and he’s like ‘mummy, mummy, what’s wrong?’ It’s pretty amazing — he’s in very good spirits.”
The family was also blown away by how Jax handled the situation as it was unfolding. Jax and his dad were getting ready to light their campfire when it happened.
“He was with his father,” Kilpatrick said, “and the thing that’s staggering us all is he was alone at the moment when this happened so he proceeded to roll on the ground to try to put the fire out and when it didn’t work he went to get the water hose.”
“I can’t even imagine for a little nine-year-old guy what that would have been like,” she continued. “To self-solve that, number one, because it was incredibly severe the burns he had so we’re all just amazed at what he pulled off in that moment.”
The family does not yet know how long they will need to stay in Vancouver, but it will be a month at minimum. They are currently staying in an apartment at the burn centre in Vancouver.
“We’re sort of figuring it out day to day, what that’s going to look like.”
Kilpatrick said her cousin told her she “would never want to ask for money from anybody.”
“I said ‘I know you wouldn’t, but sometimes people just want to do something to help and that’s what they can do,’” Kilpatrick said. “And of course the family definitely will need some money to help them get through this time, being away from their house and with little kids and everything, so I know that it will help them in the end.”
An in true Cranbrook form, the community has come out to support this cause and as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10 the campaign has reached over $2,400.
“I think just thank you to any support form the community. I know that even though they’re not there right now that it’s going to feel like a big hug from them.”
Kilpatrick said that the horrific story also serves as a warning for others — the polyester pyjamas Jax had on were extremely flammable and just a small spark set them ablaze.
“You never know around fire, and that’s the thing, a spark can fly and if it’s the wrong material then it could be a problem.”
You can donate to Jax’s fundraiser here.