LENOIR, NC (WBTV) - Jorien Howell has been fighting for his life since the day he entered this world at 1lb, 8oz. He was born at 24-and-a-half weeks. His mom, Jory Fox, is as proud as proud could be.
“This boy has been through the most you can imagine, but he’s the sweetest, most lovable, humble child you'll ever meet,” said Jory. “He brings joy to our life. He doesn’t walk independently and doesn’t talk in the ways most people understand – though I can – but he’s bubbly and happy and in our small town, he’s like a celebrity. Everyone knows him.”
Look at that smile.
“How he looks at people is contagious,” his mom said. “Anyone who meets him doesn’t regret it or forget it.”
Within weeks after being born, Jorien suffered a ruptured blood vessel in his brain. At the same time, doctors found a hole in his bowels which leaked into his stomach. Jory says she was given options as to what to do next.
“We were told, ‘Either we can give him a surgery, and he’ll have a 50% chance to live because he is so small, or we just make him comfortable for the remainder of the days he has left,’ she said. “That’s what we were told because at 1-month-old, he was just too small. So, we started praying. We told doctors to go ahead and do the surgery. He ended up spending 8 months in the NICU… but… here we are, thirteen years later.”
Thirteen years and 16 surgeries later, to be exact.
“He does awesome for his situation,” Jory said. “We celebrate my baby boy every day, and in every way! He is a miracle. I'd love for him to become part of #MollysKids.”
Jorien is in the 8th grade at William Lenoir Middle School. His mom says the kids accept him and help make his life full. As far as hobbies, Jorien loves playing with a ball and loves all music.
“He’ll dance to any beat,” Jory said with a laugh. “My boy is just happy.”
Welcome to #MollysKids, Jorien. Your smile just made lots of Monday mornings.
**Editor’s note: This is about one of #MollysKids, children WBTV Anchor Molly Grantham follows closely on her Facebook page. It was first published there, which is why it’s written in a personal way. For years Molly has followed hundreds of kids with uphill medical battles. Find this story and updates on all #MollysKids here.