GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A stranger’s kindness could make a difference for a baby in need of surgery.
A donation from a stranger is a bright spot in the struggle of Heather and Greg Puruleski and their newborn son Jonah, who suffers from a rare and deadly condition known as Trisomy 18 or Edwards Syndrome.
Jonah and his mother have been at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor since his birth three weeks ago. There, doctors deemed a surgery the parents believe could prolong their baby’s life too risky. Doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital at Ohio State University in Columbus want to do the surgery right away, but the family’s health insurer, Priority Health, has refused to fund it citing U of M’s decision. This left the family desperately seeking answers as the clock potentially runs out on Jonah’s life.
When Tom Lockhart heard their story, he had to do something.
“The family doesn’t deserve all this and this is just too much for one family to take and especially when it can be alleviated — at least alleviated in part,” Lockhart said Wednesday at his home in Rockford, where he lives by himself.
He’s going to give the Puruleskis $39,000. That, in addition to other funds the family has received through a GoFundMe account, is enough to get Jonah to Columbus, Greg Puruleski said.
“As far as getting him there, which is our main priority right now, we will definitely meet our goal for that,” Puruleski said.
Lockhart sent an email to 24 Hour News 8 after seeing the story saying he wanted to help and we put him in contact with the family. He said the money is coming out of his retirement funds.
“(Lockhart) said to me that he would not be able to sleep at night knowing that he did not help out in Jonah’s care, which I thought was very heartfelt,” Puruleski said.
Lockhart, a 69-year-old semiretired intellectual property attorney, has never met the Puruleskis of Kentwood, but he knows what he would say to them.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I think that’s the only thing I can say. My prayers are with them and I hope the surgery is successful.”
Puruleski said he and his wife are stunned.
“It’s a godsend. Like I said, I’m speechless. I still don’t know how to take all this in,” Puruleski said. “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
While the donation makes a big difference, there are many more expenses to come. The $50,000 GoFundMe account goal — met thanks to Lockhart’s donation — does not begin to pay for the surgery and recovery. And so far, Priority has not budged, according to the Puruleskis.
Again Wednesday, 24 Hour News 8 reached out to the insurance company. It declined comment citing privacy concerns.