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South Jordan Journal

Community rallies to raise funds for South Jordan man fighting for life in Vietnam

Apr 29, 2019 10:38AM ● By Jennifer Gardiner

Steven and Aaron Lawrence in Vietnam (Photo Courtesy GoFundMe)

By Jennifer Gardiner | [email protected] 

A South Jordan man who has been living in Vietnam teaching English with his father for the last six years is now going to pull through after a staph infection had spread to his heart. 

Aaron Lawrence, 31, was rushed to Cho Ray Hospital with severe colitis, an aggressive bacterial infection in his feet and legs, said his father Steven Lawrence.

Further testing showed Aaron Lawrence had severe and aggressive endocarditis, which is an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart. The tests revealed the disease has rapidly spread to his heart, seriously damaged two of his heart valves and putting him in acute kidney/renal failure.

According to the Mayo Clinic, endocarditis often occurs when bacteria, fungi or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.

The only way for Aaron Lawrence to have a chance at survival was to perform an Immediate open-heart surgery to replace two infected and damaged heart valves.

Aaron Lawrence’s mother, Brenda, posted April 24 on Facebook that the surgery was a success according to the surgeons. 

“Two mechanical valve replacements, no complications,” she wrote. “Aaron is now safely in ICU recovery ward, heavily sedated. It’s been a long couple of days and now we have direct orders from the doctor to sleep until we are summoned to the hospital sometime tomorrow. Please let my brain shut down! Thank you so much for all the prayers, well wishes and help we have received. Please let me assure you that every bit has been felt through this journey.”

Brenda got an emergency visa the day after he was admitted to the hospital and was allowed to fly over to Vietnam to be with her son. 

Brenda Lawrence has been by his side ever since, often having to sleep on a mat under Aaron’s hospital bed. The hospital also does not have air conditioning.  

Aaron Lawrence has had to undergo multiple blood transfusions and has been placed on strong antibiotics that have helped to stabilize him, but Steven Lawrence said his son needs immediate heart surgery. 

Since Aaron Lawrence has no medical insurance or savings, his family has had to deplete their savings paying for his urgent care. 

Steven Lawrence said Cho Ray Hospital has been incredibly supportive, and the costs for Aaron's surgery and post-op recovery care (which costs much more than the surgery itself and includes daily dialysis) has been substantially reduced to about $35,000, but that money had to be paid before his son is allowed to have the surgery.

Friends, family and the community all rallied together through the family’s GoFundMe and together have raised almost $33,000 to help Lawrence’s cover the cost of the surgery. 

For those who have donated or who are considering donating, the family wanted others to be reassured Aaron's younger sister is in charge of the campaign and all funds will be sent to the family in Vietnam which will then be immediately applied toward all hospitalization expenses, including leg surgery, heart surgery and post-op recovery.’