When 14-year-old Jacob started to struggle breathing in his PE class, it became clear that he couldn’t delay surgery any longer.
For his grandmother, Sherry, it was an easy decision: Jacob needed surgery to maintain his quality of life. He was born with pectus excavatum, a painful condition that caused his ribs to grow inwards and compress his diaphragm. Lately, it’s been bothering him more and more. He often has chest pain and shortness of breath.
There was just one problem – the hospital wouldn’t allow Sherry to consent to the surgery. Jacob and his two siblings have lived with Sherry for nearly three years, but she wasn’t their legal guardian. Sherry didn’t want to back down, but she kept getting rejected by doctors whenever she’d mention Jacob needing surgery.
“I had just been fighting, fighting, fighting to figure it out,” Sherry said. “I was at a loss.”
Sherry’s grandkids were orphaned when their mother, Sherry’s daughter, died in 2019. Their mom never named a father, so Sherry stepped in to raise them. She got by with a notarized handwritten note from the kids’ mom giving her permission to care for them.
“This is what I’d been doing for three years,” Sherry said. “The paper worked for school, the dentist and pediatrician.”
So, when she ran into issues with Jacob’s surgery, it just didn’t feel fair. Around the same time, the kids’ new dentist also decided the note wasn’t enough to provide them dental care. Sherry had spent so long providing for the kids, helping them adjust to their new home and the death of their mother, all the while dealing with her own health issues. She never expected these roadblocks.
“I’ve done nothing but try to help build a better future for the kids,” she said.
It became clear that Sherry needed someone to help guide her through the legal system and establish guardianship. When attorney Patricia Caddell took Sherry’s case, she knew she had to move quickly so Jacob didn’t have to suffer any longer. Patricia filed for guardianship within a week of meeting Sherry.
On the day of the hearing, Sherry’s powerful testimony nearly brought the whole court room to tears. The Clerk granted Sherry guardianship of her grandkids.
“Many times, I cried and cried because I felt like I couldn’t do what I needed for the kids,” Sherry said.
Now that she’s the legal guardian of her grandkids, Sherry cries tears of joy. Thanks to help from Pisgah Legal, Sherry won’t have any problems getting her grandkids the care they need when they need it. First up is Jacob’s surgery, scheduled for this spring.
“It is such a shame that these children went without medical treatment as long as they did because of our system,” said Patricia. “Without Pisgah Legal Services’ involvement, Sherry would still be hitting all of those brick walls and those children would still be suffering.”