Patient Story: Sawyer Jacobs
The People & Places behind Sawyer’s Story
- Pilot: Thomas McDevitt | CommSpec: Jonathan Roebuck
- Nurse: Kayla Jones| Paramedic: Adam Cafro
- Asset: L4 helicopter
- Location: Franklin Memorial Hospital to Maine Medical Center
When faced with a sick child, parents often debate whether they’re “sick enough” to go to the emergency room. In March 2022, 5-year-old Sawyer Jacobs of Mt. Vernon had already been to the emergency room on Sunday and after an ultrasound, blood work, and a CT scan revealed nothing unusual, he was sent home. But his parents, Jeanette and Matt remained worried. “He looked awful.”
When Jeanette decided to take Sawyer to the doctor Monday morning, his condition deteriorated rapidly. One minute he was walking and talking, the next he was unable to move and slipping out of consciousness. By the time they made it to Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, Sawyer was septic and going into liver failure with dangerous swelling around his heart and lungs, which was preventing his heart from pumping blood. After doctors drained the fluid from his heart, he went into cardiac arrest. Jeanette says she was terrified.
“Once LifeFlight came, there was a sense of relief,” says Jeanette. “They were clearly competent and had a calmness about them in such an intense moment.”
The LifeFlight team secured his airway and placed him on a ventilator to fly him to Maine Medical Center. For the Jacobs, it was the longest drive of their lives, wondering what condition their sweet boy, Adeline’s twin brother, would be in when they got to the hospital. Making matters more complicated, Jeanette was 35 weeks pregnant with the couple’s fourth child.
Jeanette remembers at least a dozen medical professionals working on Sawyer trying to figure out what was happening to his little body. The culprit, it turned out, was a staph infection that attacked the membrane around his heart called the pericardium. For several days, Sawyer’s condition was volatile. He had heart surgery and continued to spike fevers.
To complicate matters, a week into his stay, Jeanette was in the maternity ward having a C-section. “So I had one baby in the NICU and another in the PICU,” she remembers. “Sawyer was so brave.” To honor his courage, they gave him the great honor of naming his new baby sister. Because of the risk of infection to them both, Sawyer could initially only meet her via Zoom. He chose the name Olivia.
Today, all is well in the Jacobs’ household. Jeanette describes her son as a rough and tumble kid who likes to play flag football, fish and get dirty. “We couldn’t be more grateful for this second chance,” said Jeanette.