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Hendrix’s mother, Mandi Jo Gilstrap, said Hendrix had a medical emergency resulting in 12 surgeries as of Tuesday, sepsis, a partial left leg amputation, Toxic Megacolon and pneumonia, among other complications.
Louisa Herrera, Mandi Jo’s best friend of 25 years, started a GoFundMe to support Hendrix and his family.
Herrera initially made the GoFundMe goal $3,639 in honor of David Gilsrap’s badge number, 3639, and has now raised over $29,000 at gofundme.com/f/support-for-mandi-jo-tobey-hendrix.
Mandi Jo said Hendrix has Asperger Syndrome and is high functioning, comparing him to Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory.”
“Hendrix is one of the sweetest kids you will ever meet. He is so funny; he makes everyone laugh,” Mandi Jo said. “He loves being outside and riding his bike and being in the garden with me, and he loves his cats.”
What was a stomach ache turned out to be Toxic Megacolon, a rare and potentially deadly colon inflammation, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Hendrix suddenly began losing all blood and bodily fluids through his mouth and was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta, where he went into cardiac arrest and was put on ECMO Life Support for 48 hours.
“His intestines basically expanded so large that they took up the whole cavity of his abdomen, like up into his chest,” Mandi Jo said. “By stretching so big, it thinned out the walls of his intestines and colon, therefore allowing all that bacteria we have in our colons to seep out into his blood.”
This caused the septic shock, which led to him nearly bleeding out at home and eventually the amputation.
Mandi Jo said the cause of Hendrix’s Toxic Megacolon is currently unknown but could be from Hendrix holding his stool too long, as constipation issues can stem from Asperger’s. Doctors are also taking biopsies to see if it’s from an underlying condition.
Mandi Jo has shared Hendrix’s story to let other parents know what to look for.
“If someone had told me years ago, when he started having issues with going to the restroom that, ‘Hey, this could be fatal,’ I would have maybe… pushed to see a specialist,’” Mandi Jo said. “I wish I would’ve known that this thing even existed.”
Herrera posts daily updates from Mandi Jo on the Instagram page @hopeforhenny.
On Tuesday, Herrera, Mandi Jo and her husband, Tobey Avery, explained to Hendrix that he will need to start physical therapy due to the leg amputation. Making their home handicap accessible is another goal.
Herrera said no 8-year-old should have a stomach ache and end up with a partial left leg amputation.
“His Christmas presents are still under the tree, one of which was a new bike from Santa,” Herrera said. “Now he is not going to be able to use that in the foreseeable future.”
In addition to donations, Herrera asked for prayers from the community.