Hi, my name is David Waldon! I am 3 years old and a very happy and energetic little boy! Despite my appearance, I have a lot going on medically that most cannot see. I have been through so much in my short life and still face a lot of challenges. I am looking to get a service dog through 4 Paws For Ability to help me gain more independence and provide me comfort and support throughout my journey. The dog will also be able to alert my mom and dad if I have seizure.
I was born 3 months early and faced a long and difficult NICU stay. During the NICU stay I faced typical preemie problems of gaining weight, learning to feed, breathing on my own, and maintaining my body temperature. I also faced other complications ranging from neurological to respiratory and feeding. My problems have continued since the NICU and have led to numerous hospitalizations (including PICU stays) and medical procedures/surgeries.
Neurologically my problems are very complex. I suffered severe brain bleeds in the NICU known as intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). These led to hydrocephalus, periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), and cysts within my brain. PVL is a fancy term for the death and decay of the white matter in the brain. I was also lacking a major structure in my brain, a corpus callosum, it connects the two halves and helps them communicate normally. The hydrocephalus led to me needing major brain surgery to place a ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt. The shunt helps the excess fluid in my brain drain and it leads it to drain within my abdomen where it is absorbed by my body. I developed epilepsy and cerebral palsy from all the brain damage as well. My cerebral palsy is considered moderate and affects all four of my limbs.
The cerebral palsy creates a lot of other problems for me. I am developmentally delayed in all areas putting me at roughly 9-12 months motor skill wise and 18-24 months speech wise. These complications also cause me struggle to eat and drink the way a normal child would and I had to have a g-tube placed to provide me with all the food and nutrients I need. The g-tube is a feeding tube surgically placed to allow food, nutrients, and medicine to be directly given to me through a small port in my abdomen and directly into my stomach. I am 80% dependent on my tube and even receive all of my medicine through it as well. Hypertonia (increased muscle tone) affects all of my muscles especially with my arms and legs. The hypertonia makes my leg muscles so tight that I need leg braces known as AFOs to help me keep my feet flat on the ground and to work on weight bearing. My spine is also starting to curve and develop scoliosis from all of the increased muscle tone.
My lungs create a whole lot of issues. I was born with very sick and underdeveloped lungs. I spent weeks on a ventilator and at points needed so much breathing support that I needed to be on a special ventilator called an oscillating ventilator. All the extra breathing support led to what is called bronchopulmonary dysplasia(BPD), or also called chronic lung disease. The effects of breathing support and BPD still cause respiratory problems today whenever I catch even the common cold. I generally end up hospitalized at least four times a year, sometimes more, as a result of respiratory complications from colds. I was also born with a congenital lung malformation known as congenital cystic adenomatoid malformation (CCAM). This affected the left upper lobe of my lungs and eventually led to me needing that portion of my lungs(the top half of my left lung) to be surgically removed.
A service dog would be a huge help for me! The dog would be trained to help provide me support and stability as I continue to learn how to stand and walk. The dog will also help me out when my muscles get tired from the cerebral palsy and I have to use my wheelchair for support and getting around. The dog will help me open doors and retrieve things I may drop while I am in the wheelchair. I will also receive comfort and love from the dog during scary and uncomfortable times including medical procedures. They also will train the dog to help alert my mom and dad when I have seizures! This could potentially save my life by allowing them to get me the needed medical attention quicker.
4 Paws For Ability is going to help me make get the service dog I need!! It will cost them $40,000 – $60,000 to train the dog for my needs. They are only asking that I come up with $17,000 of the cost. The cost is not something that my family can come up with on their own so we are asking for donations to help reach our goal. I kindly request that all donations be made directly to 4 Paws. Checks should be made out to 4 Paws For Ability and the memo line needs to include my name David Waldon. I have included a donation form and addressed envelope where you can send the donations to. If the envelope gets lost, the address is: