Pig Bowl 2019 has selected three families to benefit from the annual fundraising flag football contest between Oregon and Washington law enforcement. The game is Saturday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at Wahtonka’s Sid White Field.
Recipients this year are Brynlynn Macnab of The Dalles, born premature last February at 23 weeks six days; Courtney Erikson of Parkdale, a 23-year-old who has cystic fibrosis and is hoping for a double lung transplant and Christian Rowan of Wishram, born last December with a genetic mutation and an inability to absorb nutrients.
Supporters can visit Pigbowl.net to make tax-deductible donations. Donors gifting $25 for a field goal or $50 for a touchdown are asked to indicate which team the points should go to.
Since its founding in 2003, the Pig Bowl has raised over $319,000 for 23 families. Last year, over $42,000 was raised for three families.
The Pig Bowl is organized by Oregon State Police Senior Trooper Michael Holloran. He said, ”If you’d have told me 17 years ago that the Pig Bowl would be an annual event and something so embraced by the community I’d never have believed you. People always ask me when the Pig Bowl will cease to exist and I figure as long as there are still needy families in the gorge, and assuming I’m still alive, then I’ll do my best to be a blessing to as many people as we can.”
Christian Rowan was due to be born Jan. 4 this year, but came last Dec. 17. He was conceived with a genetic mutation called CTLA4, which was passed to him by his mother. Christian was a twin, but early in the pregnancy his mother miscarried. She assumed she lost both babies but got an “amazing surprise” when she found she was still pregnant. It was an extremely difficult and high-risk pregnancy.
He appeared to be completely healthy and was released without the genetic testing his parents requested. At a well child checkup it was found Christian wasn’t gaining weight. He was taken off breast milk and put on formula, thinking it was lack of calories in the mother’s breast milk.
Months later he began projectile vomiting and rapidly losing weight. He was taken to ER multiple times with dehydration.
“And that is when the family started pushing for answers,” the Pig Bowl statement said. He was taken to Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, where his
formula was changed twice. He came home, but was re-hospitalized a few weeks later with weight loss.
Mom again asked for the screening for the genetic mutation she carried, but doctors were focused on what they thought the problem could be. He was sent home on a new non-milk formula.
But again he lost weight and was extremely pale with a distended stomach. The parents refused to go back to Randall and went to the mom’s doctor at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
There, Christian’s organs began shutting down due to lack of nutrients. They finally did the genetic testing, and he did have the mutation. “They had no clue how to treat this little baby due to him being the youngest every to have symptoms of this mutation.”
A procedure found he lacked the villi in the small intestine that absorb the nutrients going in his body. He was switched to a completely digested formula and put on a feeding tube.
He came home four weeks later with a feeding tube and a feeding plan. “This has been extremely difficult since he loves to pull the tube out of his face,” the family wrote. “He has gained eight ounces since he was released three months ago which is not a lot. He is still the size of a one-month-old weighing in at 12 pounds five ounces.”
He sees the doctor weekly or sometimes even twice a week. “They still do not have a plan of treatment for Christian, but they hope to have an idea of what to do in the next couple of weeks. There are so many unknowns still. For now, he is stable, and plans are being made to move forward.”
“Thank you for all the prayers and support of this wonderful family and please continue to pray for Christian. He is still a long way from recovery and has a long road ahead of him.”
Erikson wrote on pigbowl.net about living with Cystic Fibrosis, which is a genetic disease that involves the lungs, digestive system and pancreas.
Her upbeat attitude came through in her statement on the website; “Other than having a life threatening disease, I live life pretty darn good.” She loves cooking, gardening and all sorts of animals “especially goats and dogs.”
She loves drawing, watching movies with her dad and “making other people smile. If and when I get a transplant, I would like to go back to school to be a massage therapist.”
CF creates a thick sticky mucous in the lungs that makes it harder to breathe and do things, she wrote. It also affects the digestive system, forcing her to take enzymes every time she eats in order to break down her food.
A few months ago, she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes. People with CF have a hard time maintaining weight and “most of us have to get a feeding tube (whom I like to call Poleman) to help us get more nutritional calories to help gain and maintain a good healthy weight. If you are a good healthy weight that also helps fight infections and everything else.”
She gets an additional 1,000-1,400 calories at night with the feeding tube, plus the 3,000 calories she eats a day. “But don’t wory, (most times) I love eating!!!” she wrote.
She has to take 15 pills each morning and again at night, plus breathing treatments. She also gets sick often. “What might seem like a normal cold to you is not for us. I have been hospitalized 50 times throughout my life ranging from 5-17 days. Sixteen of those times were during my four years of high school, yet I still managed to graduate on time with my class in 2013. Wahoo!”
She’s had multiple surgeries, including four major ones on her lungs. “I have 700-900 pieces of metal in my lungs to stop them from bleeding, they are pretty much a cork to my blood vessels.”
Having that much metal has compromised her lungs and she is on oxygen “more than I am off now. Which doesn’t bother me, I call him ‘Mr. O’ and I am happy to have him in my life cause he helps me breathe better.”
She is now waiting to be listed for a double lung transplant, but her low weight is holding her back currently. “They want you to be a certain BMI (Body Mass Index) before performing the surgery,” she wrote. “This is because the surgery not only takes a toll on your body, but your bones get hit hard as well. Most people lose about 10 percent of their bones after surgery. Unfortunately, I also have osteoporosis and have the bones of an 80-year-old. Therefore, I exercise twice a week in The Dalles in order to continue strengthening my muscles, my bones and my breathing.”
She added, “If you want to know what it’s like to breathe like me, take a straw, put it in your mouth and carry on your life. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy being wheezy!”
She thanked everyone who has prayed for her family and helped them. “I hope this game brings an awareness for my family and the other two recipients, as well and that we all have a fun time. This community has come together for all of our families and I couldn’t be happier to live in a place like this.”
Brynlynn is the daughter of Lindy and Shea Macnab. A 19-week ultrasound last January found Lindy’s cervix shortening, presenting a danger of premature birth. A procedure at 22 weeks four days to stitch it shut worked briefly, but Brynlynn arrived on Feb. 9, at 23 weeks and six days, weighing one pound, eight ounces and was about 12 inches long.
She was born one day shy of the 24-week mark, which doctors said was the point at which Brynlynn would have “the best shot,” but even at that, the “odds were stacked against her,” Lindy wrote on pigbowl.net.
After she was born, “she was moving around and making little screaming sounds,” Lindy wrote. “Brynlynn kept amazing us with her strength and determination throughout her NICU stay. She is a warrior, with a fierceness and a fight in her that has taught us about strength.”
The Macnabs learned that things change rapidly in the “NICU rollercoaster” world of micro preemies. Four days after she was born, Brynlynn had a spontaneous bowel perforation requiring surgery, then sepsis, which required antibiotics, and about nine blood transfusions due to anemia. She needed a feeding tube and was on a ventilator.
She had a pancreatic insufficiency which required an insulin drip and a blood clot in her heart.
“It got to the point where we were wondering which life threatening issue we should worry about the most,” Lindy said.
But she got off the insulin and the blood clot has shrunk.
Brynlynn came home June 18, two weeks after what would have been her due date. Now, she no longer needs the feeding tube she came home with. She is feeding well and weighs about 12 pounds now. She is still on a bit of oxygen. She has a chronic lung disease and retinopathy of prematurity, which causes abnormal blood vessels to grow and can lead to blindness. However, that condition has been slowly improving.
“Brynlynn is a reminder that miracles do happen,” Lindy wrote. She said the circumstances have yielded pain and struggle, but also pure joy and happiness.
She thanked the community for the outpouring of support and love they have experienced.