This 3-year-old who needs a heart transplant adores police. Officers are sending him badges.
“We’ve got transplant or death,” Grant Hessman says. “There’s no way to put it gently.”
Hessman is talking about his 3-year-old son Kolton, who has been on life support for more than 60 days in a Nashville hospital waiting for a new heart. His has a half-dozen deformities. He has flat-lined four times.
There is little joy in Kolton’s hospital room, none of the loud laughter and hijinks and wonder that embodies 3-year-olds without tubes in their noses.
But there is love. And there is protection, honor and warm blankets from the country’s men and women in blue.
Before Kolton wound up at Vanderbilt University Hospital in August, his heart about to give out, he was just a little boy obsessed with the police.
“We’d be driving down the road and he could spot them far away,” Hessman said. “He’d point at them before I could even see them. He’s just always been fascinated by them.”
A Facebook page to keep family members and friends updated on Kolton’s condition features pictures of him in a S.W.A.T uniform. Boston police officer Kevin Welsh stumbled on the page late last year.
“I was just looking at the screen and saw a picture of Kolton, a beautiful little boy,” Welsh told Fox News. “When I read his story, it moved me to tears.
Welsh sent Kolton a care package with toy police cars and Boston Police badges. He spread the word online to other departments. Since then, almost every day has brought packages and hospital visits from police officers — some driving hundreds of miles to meet and pray for the little boy.
Officers in Texas, Maryland, Iowa, Tennessee and elsewhere have sent dozens of police badges warn by officers, autographed pictures of S.W.A.T. teams, toys, sunglasses, teddy bears, and cards. The Hendersonville, Tenn., police sent a blanket decorated with a police car.
“It has been overwhelming and moving,” Hessman said. “It hasn’t stopped.”
Kolton is alert enough that he’s been able to see and acknowledge some of the gifts. Tennessee State Patrol officers stopped by recently, put a hat on Kolton’s head, and took a picture with their thumbs up. Kolton, naked except for a diaper, appeared to put his thumb up too.
Hessman hasn’t been able to work — he delivers temperature controlled packages for FedEx — for months. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with expenses. But that’s not why he’s been giving interviews and allowing television cameras into his son’s hospital room.
Hessman wants to save his son’s life and many more by bringing attention to organ donation, which he feels there isn’t enough education about, particularly at driver’s license agencies where people can sign up to be donors.
He wants people to be told that, according to major transplant organizations, one donor can save eight lives, that donation is supported by all major religions, that donors can still have open casket funerals.
And Hessman also wants the country to know about the goodness of so many police officers.
“There is so much hatred right now,” he said. “But there are officers out there every day doing good deeds, helping people in need, but nobody is recording them doing that.”
Last night, a picture of get-well cards was posted.
“Keep fighting Kolton,” one said. “You’re a very strong person and we’re thinking about you everyday!”
It was signed, “Boston Police Academy Recruit Class 56-16.”
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