CADYVILLE - When Marcus Walker was born, his mother, Amie Alexander, knew he would have health problems.
"I was only four months pregnant, and [the doctors] noticed something was wrong," said Alexander, who was referred downstate for further examination at the time.
Eventually, Marcus was born four weeks premature with a condition known as gastroschisis, a congenital defect which caused portions of his intestines to form outside his body. Weighing only 4 pounds, 13 ounces, and measuring 17 inches long, Marcus' mother worried for the health of her baby.
"He was born and rushed right up to the [neonatal intensive care unit]," she said.
Marcus underwent five surgeries as a newborn to correct his condition, spending his first three and a half months of life intubated on a ventilator. During that time, Marcus was just shy of two weeks old when doctors found a fistula - an abnormal connection in his intestines - which leaked stool into his abdominal cavity. He underwent surgery to correct that problem, but ended up necrotizing enterocolitis, which resulted in the death of the majority of Marcus' bowel tissue - leaving him with 10 inches of intestine. Marcus lost the necessary part of his midsection that absorbs nutrients from food, affecting his digestive system.
When he was 3 months old, Marcus underwent nissen fundoplication, a surgical procedure to stop the severe gastroesophageal reflux disease he developed. Not catching a break at that time either, Marcus became sick again and was intubated for another 45 days. As a result of severe scarring that developed, he was given a tracheotomy. He was later transferred to Boston Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass., where his condition started to improve enough to come home to the North Country for the first time last November.
"He was 8 and a half months old before he came home," said Alexander.
Though home, Marcus isn't out of the woods, said his mother. He still requires 24-hour care, with Alexander getting help from two private duty nurses and her mother, Laurie Donaldson.
"We still have a long ways to go, but he's come a long way, too," said Alexander. "He's just amazing."
What's complicated matters, though, is Alexander has had unreliable transportation and has ever-mounting expenses related to Marcus' care, not to mention taking care of her two other children, Arianna, 5, and Skylar, 2.
Marcus' family receives Medicaid but Medicaid does not cover all the things Marcus needs to care for him, said Alexander. The family still has to travel to Boston for routine appointments, and the cost of fuel and lodging has become even more burdening. That's where Bubba Gonyo and Cindy Bapp, founders of the Bubba-Bapp Foundation stepped in.
"He's just a miracle, there's no way else to describe him," Gonyo said of Marcus. "That's why we're doing this. We want to give him a miracle, too."
Therapy Nightclub and Sports Lounge, 14 Margaret St., will host "Miracle for Marcus" next Saturday, April 2, beginning at 12 p.m. The event, organized by the Bubba-Bapp Foundation, will consist of a spaghetti dinner, talent show, double-elimination cricket dart tournament, pool tournament, and Rock Band tournament.
Entertainment will be provided by Nite Train, among other local bands. Raffle tickets will also be sold.
For more information or to make a donation toward the event, call 534-8109 or find the Miracle for Marcus page on Facebook.
Donations may also be sent in care of Laurie Donaldson to 732 State Route 374, Apt. A, Cadyville N.Y. 12918.