Jacksonville paramedic self-isolating in hopes of being with terminally-ill son

If Kendall Whitaker stays healthy for 14 days, she’ll be able to bring 5-year-old son home

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – For some, adhering to social distancing during the COVID 19 pandemic could be the difference of life and death.

A Jacksonville mother, who is a paramedic, is in self-quarantine. She’s trying to stay healthy in hopes of being reunited with her 5-year-old son, who is terminally ill.

Kendall Whitaker’s son, Easton, was born with a congenital heart defect called hypolastic left heart syndrome.

“Basically, the left side of his heart never fully formed,” Whitaker said.

When he was just two months old, Easton underwent a heart transplant at UF Health in Gainesville.

“Since then, he has had some chronic rejection issues, which has kind of attacked his heart and made it really weak, and he is now in hospice care,” Whitaker said.

As a paramedic, Whitaker works in an emergency room. She’s working hard amid the pandemic.

“We see a lot of potential COVID-19 cases and cases that do turn into COVID, and I am right there around them, and because I work in that situation, I can’t have him stay with me,” Whitaker said. “If he were to catch this virus, he’s one of the kids that would not make it out of it.”

Easton is staying with his grandmother in Georgia. A nurse that Whitaker works with has started her an online fundraising account, hoping to help her stay home so she can eventually spend time with her son.

To do that, she must self-quarantine.

“As long as I can stay symptom free for a total of 14 days, I can bring him home,” Easton said. “To bring him home and know I can just keep him here for as long as possible and to spend these last weeks, months, maybe a year with him, just makes my heart so happy. I can’t even begin to explain what that makes me feel.”

Due to his chronic rejection, Easton is not a candidate for a second heart transplant.

“The paramedic in me knows science of it all and I understand the reality of his situation,” Whitaker said. “But the mom in me just wants to have this hope that supersedes all the science and reality.”

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