Area Toddler Deals With Tracheostomy

By: Amy Bingham
By: Amy Bingham

Health problems continue to plague another area child. Three-year-old Gary Jones of Franklin, has lived with a tracheostomy since he was just a few months old.

A tracheostomy is a surgical incision in the trachea or windpipe. A tube is inserted through the opening to allow passage of air and removal of secretions. Instead of breathing through the nose and mouth, the child breaths through the tracheostomy tube.

According to, there are currently 432 children representing 25 countries with tracheotomies.

“ ... Been kind of hard on all of us,” Gary’s mom, Alicia Jones said. Alicia is talking about the health struggles facing her young son, Gary.

She had him in November of 2003, nearly 15 weeks premature. Gary weighed just one pound and 14 ounces. He had to be put on ventilator to breathe. As tiny as he was, he managed to pull it out.

“After pulling it out so many times, replacing it ... It damaged his throat with the ventilator tube closed off with scar tissue,” Alicia said. That’s when Gary was forced to have a tracheostomy in order to breathe.

Three million dollars in medical costs and countless hospital stays later, Gary’s family is hopeful the trach may soon be a thing of the past.

This Friday, Jan. 20, 2007, he will undergo surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Specialist Dr. Robin Cotton will rebuild Gary’s throat using cartilage from between his ribs.

“He’s the founder of Reconstructive Airway Surgery. They see-over $11,000-cases a year, perform three or four surgeries a day,” Gary’s dad, Chris Jones said.

If all goes well, Gary won’t have to use a trach again.

“They said the chances of that are slim ... 90 percent chance they won’t have to go back and put the trach in,” Chris said.

It’s a day the Jones are looking forward to ... having their three-year-old live and breathe a normal life.

After Friday’s surgery, Gary will be in ICU for two and a-half weeks and must stay in the Cincinnati area for up to a month, to watch for signs of infection.

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