People still do good things in the world.
Blessings to Jada. Hat's off to FedEx!
Because of caring people and a caring company, a terminally ill little Green Forest girl was flown home Friday by air ambulance from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, so she can spend her last days surrounded by the people who love her most.
Jada Harper, who turned seven on Sept. 1, has an inoperable malignant tumor in her brain and is in a coma with a ventilator doing her breathing for her. She has been at the famous cancer center in Houston since July, but her situation is now at the point not much else can be done to help her.
Friday afternoon, Jada was flown home to the Ozarks — on a gurney, attached to the machine that breathes for her. FedEx Freight paid the $11,000 bill for the special medical flight her family was unable to afford.Jada is the daughter of Savannah and Jason Surface and has been a student at Green Forest Elementary School. The family, which includes Lyndon, 4, and Gracelyn, almost 2, lived in Oak Grove until Jada got sick this summer, and the family moved in with Jason’s family — his mother Wanda and sister Brandy Surface — in Batavia.“Jada got diagnosed in June with a malignant brain tumor,” said the child’s grandmother, Wanda Surface. “It’s a brain-stem glioma, and it’s inoperable.”Wanda said Jada was first treated at Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock.
“The most important thing was radiation, so we spoke with doctors all over the United States. There was one doctor who really wanted to see her, from M. D. Anderson’s in Houston. So we took her to Anderson’s in July.”Jada was able to travel by car at that time.“She had chemo and radiation,” Wanda said. “The treatment was shrinking the tumor, but they only gave us 18 months. Then about three weeks ago, she seized, and it killed part of her brain. She’s been in a coma for three weeks now. They had to put her on a ventilator.”Wanda said Jada is not able to be taken off of the ventilator.
“They say she could still wake up, but she’ll still have brain damage,” she said. “They’re only giving us three months now.”The child’s grandmother said medical experts at M. D. Anderson’s recently gave Jada’s parents a choice: to give her further radiation, which might buy her six months — “They said she could stay here, and let her lay here and let us keep her alive for maybe six more months. Or — you could take her home and give her three months.”Wanda said Savannah and Jason “couldn’t bear to think about her lying there in that hospital for six more months. They decided to take her home to her family, to everyone who loves her. Everybody is here.”
Wanda, along with her son Jason, Jada’s dad, had been in Houston with Jada until recently. “Jason had to come home to go back to work at Tyson’s,” she said. “We got home yesterday.”Jada’s mother, Savannah, remained behind at Anderson’s with her daughter.
Moving Jada home from Texas — in a coma and attached to a ventilator — became the big challenge.“They said a ground ambulance was too dangerous,” Wanda said. “They said she’d be dead within hours — it’s just too long of a trip from Houston.”
She needed to be moved in an air ambulance, which costs $10,000-$14,000, Wanda said.
Wanda said the family started calling every organization they could think of that helps transport people for medical reasons, including Angel Flight, but they weren’t able to find anybody who would fly the little girl in her serious medical condition from Houston to Arkansas.
Tiffany Gilliam, a close friend of Savannah’s, kept updating Andrea Martin, Green Forest Elementary principal, with what was going on with Jada. Andrea called someone she knew at FedEx to see if they could help. She called the right person when she called Kelly Madewell, who is flight operations specialist at FedEx Freight in Harrison.
“This all took place on Thursday,” Wanda said. “The next thing we knew, Savannah called us from Houston, and she was crying and crying. She said they had called her to tell her that FedEx had a flight coming to pick her and Jada up and bring them home.”
Ken Reeves, vice-president and general counsel of FedEx Freight, told the Daily Times that Madewell “was the one who put this whole thing together, and Doug Duncan in Memphis, (president and CEO of FedEx Freight Corp. in Memphis), and Pat Reed here in Harrison, (executive vice-president and CEO of FedEx Freight), both approved for FedEx Freight in Harrison to pay for it.”Reeves said the flight will cost the company “a little over $11,000.”
“One thing that impresses me about this company is that the company has a heart,” Reeves said. "Our company does a lot of things like this. It’s been recognized as one of the most admired companies in the world, and this is why.”
The Medway air ambulance, equipped with a medical team, picked up Jada and her mother in Houston on Thursday afternoon for the hour-long flight to the Harrison airport, where they landed about 4:30 p.m. Jada was met on the runway by an ambulance from North Arkansas Regional Medical Center’s Emergency Services, which whisked her off in a matter of minutes toward NARMC, where she will be in intensive care, according to Wanda.Friends and relatives, as well as Reeves and Reed from FedEx, were on hand at the FedEx terminal at the Boone County Regional Airport to greet Jada and Savannah when they arrived. The family used the opportunity to thank the two FedEx officials over and over for bringing their little girl home.Jada’s family has expressed their gratitude to FedEx for what they have done to ensure the sick little girl could be brought home to be with her family.
“I really appreciate it,” said Daniyale Harper of Harrison, Jada’s aunt, earlier Friday. “It’s the best thing that’s happened so far.”Jada’s grandmother, Wanda, said, “I’m so overwhelmed. You don’t know how we’ve searched for the past two weeks. We’ve searched all over the U.S. to find somebody who could help us bring Jada home, and the answer was right here in our own hometown. These people at FedEx are miracle-workers.”Jada’s mother, Savannah, told Reed and Reeves at the airport, “It’s all worked out wonderful. I didn’t think we’d be able to get her here, but luckily, my hometown came through. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.”