A 9-year-old boy from Asheboro, North Carolina, who recently learned his body is rejecting his donor heart has one big wish for Christmas: He'd like holiday cards from around the world to lift his spirits.
Will Sidebottom was born with a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome — a heart defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped — and faced his first open heart surgery at 10 days old. Will's mom, Jennifer Lowery, says her son almost didn't survive the surgery, but came out of the experience a fighter.
Will had two additional open heart surgeries before age 3, and at age 6 received a heart transplant.
"It worked, and for a whole three years we had a normal kid," Lowery told TODAY Parents, explaining they learned earlier this month that all of Will's arteries are blocked and his body is rejecting the donor heart. "There aren't many options left for him because he's had so many blood transfusions that he's built up a strong immune system that's fighting everything the doctors do to help."
With doctors telling Lowery her son may only have a few months to live, Lowery and her husband, Jay, have been fulfilling Will's wishes they as often as they can with the help of their community of online supporters. They've taken him for a ride in a Lamborghini, sat court side at a Charlotte Hornets game, traveled and they're doing anything possible to make Will smile.
Recently, Will mentioned that he would love to receive Christmas cards from around the world, so Lowery put out a call on social media.
"We have received an astonishing amount of cards and presents," said Lowery. "We're still trying to read them all. All of them are beautiful, telling him to stay strong and that people are praying for him. Schools, police departments and churches are sending hundreds at a time. It's truly beautiful and his spirits are so high. All he does is smile."
"He's loving being in the spotlight," Lowery continued. "And having so many people sending him their love has been healing. He's still extremely ill, but his spirits are high and that will keep him fighting."
As they spend Will's remaining days making memories together as a family, Lowery, who has two other sons ages 17 and 12, says her little one will keep fighting.
"As his mom there's nothing that could make me happier than to see him happy except, of course, a cure for him and kids like him," said Lowery. "I'm just amazed at the amount of people who take time out of their day to think of us and send their prayers and positive energy ... It's been incredible and we still have more to do."
Those interested in sending Will a holiday card can send mail to:
1595 Nottingham Street
Asheboro, NC 27203