This article appears in 2015 August Her Family.
Four-year old Jesse Wilson is like most boys his age. He loves Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and McDonald’s French fries. But one thing sets him apart.
In his short life, he has undergone 20 surgeries to help correct the birth defect hypospadias. It means that his urethra is in the wrong spot. Normally, this type of defect is fixed through surgery, but Jesse’s case is rare.
Jesse’s skin heals too quickly, subsequently undoing the work of each surgery. “If he didn’t heal in a way that he does, it would have been fixed a really long time ago,” says his mother, Jill Wilson.
In the year Jesse was 2, he had surgery once a month. It’s hard to imagine. “He has been a champion. He bounces back so quickly and he handles it. He’ll just sit there and let the doctors do their thing,” Wilson says.
They have strong support from family and friends. “My mom has never missed a surgery. She’s always there.” Wilson is thankful for the prayers from her mom’s friends on Jesse’s behalf. “I love hearing that and I appreciate every single one of them.”
He was also born eight weeks early, so he spent some time in the neonatal intensive care unit at Methodist Women’s Hospital in Omaha.
He has had two full reconstructive surgeries. Out of 20 surgeries, the majority of them were an attempt to correct his hypospadias, while others were for different issues. “A lot of them were just attempts to keep his urethra open,” she says.
“Luckily, the nurses and doctors at Children’s Hospital are phenomenal. Everybody has made him feel really comfortable.”
They are continuing the search for a solution and are in Texas this month for a surgery with one of the nation’s pioneering pediatric urologists, Dr. Warren Snodgrass of the Forest Park Medical Center. Snodgrass is responsible for creating a new method for hypospadias repair that has become the most widely used operation for this condition.
“The doctor said that he’s never had a child that has scarred the way that Jesse does, and so he’s hoping that when he does the surgery, he won’t. But there are no promises,” Wilson says. They will travel with his dad, James Wilson. Jocelyn, 20-months-old, will stay home with grandma.
Jesse has a favorite stuffed giraffe he takes with him to the hospital each surgery. Gradually, his giraffe was joined by an army of bears that he earned one by one from the hospital after each surgery. “He has an extensive collection and those were always his favorite to cuddle with after he got out.”
Meanwhile, Jesse, the continual fighter, is singing his way through the days. “He always sings. He loves ‘The Wheels on the Bus.’ Anything he hears, he repeats and he sings it,” Wilson says.