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A Parent’s Worst Nightmare

County teenager needs transplant as he battles complications from COVID-19

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Pansy and Billy Vaughn are praying for the miracle of a complete healing of their teenage son’s heart and lungs. Their son, Brandon, has been hospitalized in Lexington since early November with complications from COVID-19.  He is also undergoing dialysis.  Brandon’s doctors are reaching out to other hospitals who can do a double transplant-lung and kidney.  Thus far, a receiving hospital has not been located.  Prior to this illness, Brandon had no underlying health conditions and enjoyed hunting, fishing, hunting ginseng, and other outdoor activities. Brandon with his younger brother, James, is pictured with parents, Billy and Pansy Vaughn, during a happier family time.

By Eugenia Jones

Billy and Pansy Vaughn, parents of seventeen year old Brandon Vaughn who has been hospitalized due to COVID-19 since November 7, are living every parent’s nightmare.

“Being Brandon’s parents as we watch him being so sick and not being able to help him is a nightmare we wish we could wake up from,” Pansy Vaughn said emotionally.  “It is something we hope no one ever has to go through-especially kids.”  

The teenager became ill on October 29, 2021 with a fever of 102.  On the following day while at a doctor’s office, Brandon tested positive for COVID-19.  When he returned home, the fever climbed to 103.9, and his concerned parents called their doctor asking for additional advice.  Following doctor’s orders, Brandon’s parents gave Tylenol to their son.  By November 3, Brandon was having difficulty breathing, and his parents took him to a nearby hospital where he was sent back home with a diagnosis of possible COVID-19 pneumonia.

Pansy administered breathing treatments to her son, but his condition continued to worsen.  On November 7, the parents took their son to Corbin Baptist Hospital where he was given 8 liters of oxygen and then airlifted to Kentucky Children’s Hospital/University of Kentucky in Lexington.  

“They started giving Brandon high flow oxygen when they got him to Lexington,” Pansy said.  “We were still traveling to Lexington, and Brandon just kept calling us to see where we were and how much longer it would be until we were with him.”

Brandon was quickly placed on a ventilator and currently remains on the ventilator.   He is also receiving ECMO treatment.  Additionally, Brandon’s kidney functioned slowed, and he is receiving dialysis. Doctors did a tracheostomy to awaken the teenager from sedation, enabling him to have ice chips and make others aware of his needs.  Even more drastic, the doctors have begun reaching out to additional hospitals in an effort to find one that will accept Brandon for a double transplant-lung and kidney.

“The doctors said they have tried to find a hospital to accept Brandon for a transplant,” Pansy explained.  “They said they have tried in Cincinnati, Houston, and North Carolina.  So many doctors tell us different things, but we pray for a miracle.  So far, no hospital has taken Brandon.  He must have a transplant team accept him before he can be put on a donor list.

Until contracting COVID-19, Brandon had no underlying health issues.  Like many local teenagers, he loves all things outdoors, including hunting, fishing, swimming, snowball fighting, camping, and four-wheeling.

“He loves all of his family and his dog, Fluffy,” Pansy said.  “He enjoys ginseng hunting with his papa and spending time with me, his dad, and especially his brother, James.”

For Brandon’s brother James, it has been difficult as he misses his brother and his parents.

“James is hanging in and missing all of us,” Pansy said.  “We are here with Brandon so much that we aren’t able to spend much time with James at all.”  

Pansy and Billy stay in a sleep room at the hospital where they are also able to do their laundry.  Throughout their ordeal, Pansy noted the community back home in McCreary County has been good to them.

“We thank each and every one who has given us money for food and helped with our bills at home,” Pansy said gratefully.  “And we appreciate all the prayers for Brandon, us, and his brother during this time.”

A benefit fund raiser for Brandon and his family is planned for February 5, 2022 at the McCreary County Senior Citizen Building (County Park.)  The benefit will include a chili/hotdog supper (with topppings, drinks, and dessert), auction, gospel music, cake auction, door prizes, and 50/50 pot.  Organizers are asking for donations to help with the benefit and are also seeking gospel musicians willing to perform.  Anyone interested in helping with the benefit can contact Jessica Stephens at 606-416-0738 or Carla Privett at 606-516-0049.

Brandon and his family’s story has been picked up by several news stations across the state with Pansy and Billy asking passionately for help from any hospital willing to accept their son for a transplant.  Of course, the parents also ask for prayers.

“All Brandon and us ask for is prayers for him for a complete healing of his lungs and kidneys,” Pansy declared. 

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