LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A 16-year-old Lufkin teen's family was filled to the brim with excitement on Friday as they showed off their brand new wheelchair.
But this is no ordinary wheelchair; built by the wheelchair fabrication department at the State Supported Living Center and funded through donations by the Texas Forestry Association, the wheelchairs are fitted for the bodies of those who desperately need them.
Tammy Carrington, the mom of Jonathan Carrington, says the wheelchair is a blessing because it helps her son live a mobile life.
"It's overwhelming. You know, you think about fourteen years of his life he's been helped by incredible people through the Texas Forestry Association and the state school to be able to make a wheelchair he can sit in and that he's comfortable in. It's overwhelming to think about everything that goes into it," Carrington said.
For the past 20 years, the Texas Forestry Association has been donating funds raised through their log auction to the state school's wheelchair fabrication department.
"They actually build these chairs and they are built to specially fit the bodies of their clients and clients that are off campus," Ron Huffard, the executive director of the Texas Forestry Association, said. "In 1999, Jonathan Carrington…his father worked for the Texas Forest Service so we knew the Carrington's and they were in need of a wheelchair, a special wheelchair for their child and he was one that received a wheelchair and it was specially fitted to his body and it helped him grow."
Every couple of years, Jonathan and others get new wheelchairs that fit their growing bodies and this week, Jonathan got his newest wheelchair.
"It allows him to actually be mobile—to allow him to actually get out of his room and he stays in his bed or a recliner because those are the two places that he is comfortable," Carrington said. "He had actually outgrown his other chair and he hadn't been able to sit in it comfortably. He would start to cry because it was too tight."
At three days old, Jonathan had a bad reaction to his vaccines.
"He was screaming 18-to-20 hours a day and it was unrelenting. It was top of the lungs, blood curdling screams," Carrington said. "At two months, he got his routine shots and it made everything more intense and when he was four months old he just continued screaming round the clock."
At four months old, Jonathan suffered a brain aneurism.
"He screamed until he blew a blood vessel and he was life flighted out of Lufkin to Shreveport and he died in the helicopter and in the intensive care unit over there three times and was recitated three times and had seizures and he was on life support and really given no hope for survival," Carrington said. "He made it and they weaned him off of life support and on December 21, which was ten days after the original aneurysm, the aneurysm ruptured again for the second time and they gave him less than 24 hours to live that time."
"They had us planning his funeral and told us what his last breath would look like and how to prepare for that and he stabilized. God had other plans," Carrington said.
Without the wheelchair, Carrington says Jonathan wouldn't be able to get out and do much of anything.
"It's custom made for him. The typical wheelchairs they come right out of a box basically and he's got a lot of challenges. He's got Scoliosis and he's got hip dislocation and with his feeding tube and everything it's been…he's not been able to sit in a regular wheelchair and it wasn't until the state school helped mold something to his body that he was actually comfortable enough to sit in a wheelchair and so it's unique," Carrington said.
Carrington said without the help from the state school and the Texas Forestry Association she would have to pay out of pocket for a wheelchair, which would cost her $10,000.
"He's a sweet boy with a good disposition. He really…he fights hard and works hard. He's a good boy," Carrington said.
She says the best part is being able to go places with Jonathan again.
"To really be outside again is going to be a blessing," Carrington said.