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Gold Ribbon Hero Jacob T.

“Reason this person is a Gold Ribbon Hero: Jacob is 15 year old brother of 17 year old cancer survivor Hannah. Last July Hannah and Jacob were on their way to China on a school trip.

Hannah has a shunt in her brain to drain cerebral fluid to prevent hydrocephalus.  This is necessary because her tumor blocks the natural flow.

Hannah’s shunt stopped working sometime after they left the airport in Louisville, KY. While on the second leg of their flight from Detroit to Beijing Hannah became disoriented and sluggish eventually falling into a comatose state from the severe pressure of the hydrocephalus  brought on by the shunt failure.

The flight crew didn’t know what to do at first. They initially thought she was just some 16 year old who had taken a drug. Jacob, 14 at the time, was a fearless and courageous advocate for his sister repeatedly telling the flight crew that she had cancer, that she had a shunt and that all her actions were really symptoms of shunt failure.

A physician on board finally listened to Jacob explain his sister’s medical history and condition and told the flight crew everything he said was consistent with his sister’s situation.

The pilot diverted the plane to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where she was removed by ambulance from the plane and taken to Stollery Children’s Hospital for emergency surgery to relieve the pressure.

Jacob remained by his sister’s side the entire time except while in surgery. He only left after his parents arrived the next day.

His actions in never giving up and convincing the flight crew he knew his sister was sick saved her life.

He is a hero to Hannah, and his (and her) parents.” – Ron T.


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