Family, friends rally to help Piedmont student
Until February, Garren Janes didn’t know anything was wrong. There were no warning signs, no symptoms. On February 4, the 14-year-old Piedmont Middle student had a seizure and collapsed in the middle of gym class. When he got to the hospital, doctors found Garren had a ruptured arterial venus malformation in his brain, requiring immediate surgery and starting a long road to recovery for the football player who dreams of one day taking the field for an NFL team.
An arteriovenous malformation is an abnormal connection between veins and arteries. Without capillaries to remove carbon dioxide or deliver nutrients to the cells, AVM can cause multiple problems, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders. In Garren’s case, doctors performed surgery to relieve the pressure in his brain, then followed three days later with a second surgery, removing a piece of his skull to allow room for the brain to swell. The teenager was put in ICU on a ventilator and placed in a coma to give his brain time to heal.
“It was three weeks before he opened his eyes,” Garren’s dad and Southbrook Church Monroe campus pastor Geoffrey Janes said. “It was rough, going into something like this, where the doctors can’t give you answers. God and the power of prayer got Garren and the rest of us through.”
Two months later, Garren is awake and in therapy, as his brain continues to heal. He’s able to communicate by moving his eyes. Looking up means yes to a question, looking down means no.
“He wants to move, but his body won’t respond,” Janes said. “His brain has to relearn how to walk and talk. It’s hard to imagine going through that, especially as a kid.”
An eighth grader at Piedmont, Garren is a diehard Steelers fan, Janes said. Also a funny, somewhat sarcastic guy. What Janes didn’t know until after the accident was how much kids in the community respected and looked up to his son. Students would come up and tell him how much Garren meant to them, Janes said, not just as a witty classmate, but also on a spiritual level, as they said Garren is someone who takes his faith seriously.
“That’s pretty cool for a father to find out about his son,” Janes said.
The support and show of affection for Garren came in other ways as well. The family converted their garage into an apartment for Garren, in order to make it easier for him to get around. A local plumbing company donated a full walk-in shower and toilet, while several professional contractors donated their time to help build the project.
“I have been blown away, the support has been unbelievable,” Janes said. “Words cannot describe how comforting it is, this help has enabled us to truly focus on Garren and our family.”
As the family works to help Garren recover, they’ve run into a few stumbling blocks, in regards to what is or is not covered by their insurance. For example, a hospital type bed for Garren to sleep on is covered, however the air mattress is not. A wheelchair is covered, but not the kind that can roll into the shower, to make it easier to take a bath. To help cover the costs, local residents have put together multiple fundraisers over the next two months.
Lending a hand
The first event will happen April 27, at Kate’s Skates in Indian Trail, with a $4 admission fee. In addition to skating, there will be a silent auction, t-shirt and bracelet sale, with all proceeds going to benefit the Janes famiy.
“My little brother goes to school with Garren, they played football and both went to Porter Ridge Elementary together,” organizer Samantha Mowery, who works at the skating rink, said. “We just want to help.”
Mowery is hunting for more donations, already collecting everything from a spa package to a photographer willing to take someone’s portrait for free.
“We’ll take ‘em until they stop coming,” Mowery said. “So far it’s been really good. Everyone I’ve talked to has jumped to help.”
In May, a second fundraiser will be held at Porter Ridge High School. The Miracle Miles 5k and Family Fun Run will start at 8 a.m., with all proceeds going to benefit the Janes family. Adult runners have to pay $25, with $15 for students. Water, fruits and snacks will be offered to all participants.