Community supports fundraiser for baby fighting tumor
Parrish's Donald Bunch, a firefighter for the North River Fire District, looked out at about 100 people looking through the bake sale, silent auction and raffle items just outside the door of the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon.
"It is overwhelming, very humbling," Bunch said of the turnout to support his son, Jaxson, who was born May 4 with a non-cancerous tumor that has been consuming his platelets and blood clotting factors. The disease is known as Kaposiform Hemangioendothelioma and Kasabach-Meritt Phenomenon.
Jaxson has spent much of his young life at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg.
It appears that doctors are winning the battle. "His blood levels are up," Donald Bunch said.
Walking through the crowd, Kara Bunch carried her son, who didn't seem to be bothered by the bustle of the crowd.
"He is a happy baby now," she said.
That only recently has become at the case.
"After he was born, he was suffering and was in pain," Kara Bunch said. "It was heartbreaking."
She is a nurse at Manatee Memorial Hospital, but she had no knowledge of her son's condition because it is so rare. "Whenever you hear the word 'chemo,' that's a terrible word. When you hear 'tumor,' that's a terrible word. Those are hard words to hear.
"I am glad that I am able to comprehend it. But I also worry because I know what could happen."
Donald Bunch said that he and his wife were devastated after their son's birth. "We decided that this was our life and we had to move forward," he said. "We did it with everyone's help. We had other people to pick us up."
Plenty of people were on hand Saturday, including Donald's extended fire department family.
"This is heartwarming, amazing," Kara Bunch said. "I would have never expected any of this."
Mary Egan, an administrative assistant in finance for the North River Fire District, put the event together. "I felt that God put it into my heart," she said.
The medical costs have been considerable for the young couple.
"We're in a rough spot," Donald Bunch said. "But we're working through it. We knew we would have to deal with that side of it eventually, but right now we have to concentrate on Jax.
"I never would have asked for help. And now I know that there are so many people who have helped us that we will never even know about."
A funding site has been formed at www.gofundme.com/jointhefightforjax