ROCKFORD, Mich. - A Rockford family is trying to get a 10-year-old boy home after he was forced to undergo emergency surgery after a medical scare while on vacation in Florida.
Chandyn Thompson is facing an uphill battle after suffering bleeding in the brain from a previously unknown medical condition. He needs a special type of plane to bring him to DeVos Children's Hospital from Tampa, which his insurance will not cover. The Rockford community is asking for help to bring him home.
Students at Valley View Elementary School are back in class after spring break this week. One seat that remains empty, however, belongs to Thompson, a fourth grader.
"As a teacher you think that your students are supposed to be here doing their math and getting out their protractors," began Cheri Dettwiler, Chandyn's fourth grade teacher.
Thompson is suffering from an arterioveinous malformation, often called an AVM.
"The story is that his family was doing fishing and Chandyn said he wasn't feeling well" said Valley View principal Bob Siegel. "He vomited and had a headache and then eventually he became unresponsive, so his parents rushed him to the hospital."
Getting Chandyn from Tampa to DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids is the goal, but it is expensive: $40,000, which they say insurance doesn't cover.
"He can't fly in a regular plane, go in a car or an ambulance,"said Siegel. "It is a specific kind of plane he needs."
Chandyn's uncle has created a GoFundMe page to help with expenses, already raising around $12,000 in less than a day.
"We are trying to raise money so his family can come home and he can heal here" said Dettwiler. "We know his recovery will be long-term, maybe two weeks, two months or even a year, we don't know. It is all unknown. We know that he probably won't be back to school this year. They don't live in Tampa; they need to be home."
Chandyn's classmates are helping out too. They have made hundreds of cards to send to him in the hospital and are hosting a benefit at school next week. Their annual 'Lemonade War', usually held in May, will be a 'Lemonade Benefit' this year, held next Thursday and Friday.
"It is a very tight community," said Dettwiler. "The school and Rockford community is very supportive. The difficult thing for the family, I think, on top of their son is the financial burden that they are facing is unbearably difficult."'
Chandyn's uncle shared on the GoFundMe page that Chandyn is as determined as they come and has an iron will and they know he will recover, no matter how long it takes.