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Jairden Loukota, 2, got a helping hand from his brother Zach, 8, as they played
Jairden Loukota, 2, got a helping hand from his brother Zach, 8, as they played

Toddler struck by golf club

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

IDEAL TOWNSHIP — Jairden Loukota is like any busy toddler.

He enjoys tagging along with his big brothers and sister, playing with his kitten and acting out his favorite lines from the Disney movie “Tangled.”

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On Aug. 25, when Jairden was playing out in the family’s hayfield with his two older brothers, a freak accident saved Jairden’s life.

Asa, 9, and Zach, 8, were hitting golf balls while Jairden was helping to retrieve them, something they’d all done many times before. One of the brothers swung the club and struck Jairden in the stomach. Their father, Jake, was nearby and he carried a crying Jairden back to the house.

Megan, Jairden’s mom, said he complained that his hand hurt but then, just a few minutes later, Jairden’s face grew white and his body went limp. The Loukotas raced their son to the emergency room at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby.

A CT scan was performed and it appeared that Jairden was bleeding internally. He was flown to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis where additional testing revealed the 2-year-old was bleeding not from an injury, but from the rupture of a massive tumor. The tumor, the size of a small cantaloupe shaped like a teardrop, was attached to a part of his liver. He was diagnosed with heptablastoma, a rare liver tumor.

The Loukotas think Jairden’s hand may have been in front of his abdomen when it was struck by the club and the club pushed his hand into belly. He had no bruising or marks on his body, but the tumor, which moved around, had taken over so much of his abdominal cavity that anything could have caused it to rupture.

Megan said Jairden’s internal organs were all pushed back and out of place because of the large tumor in the 23-pound boy. She thought she felt something strange in his stomach a couple of times before but couldn’t feel it again when she tried. A few days before the accident, she told Jake she should make a doctor’s appointment for him.

Five days after the accident, doctors at Children’s Hospital removed the large tumor. Fortunately, surgeons were able to remove all of it.

Megan said when she was told that Jairden had a rare liver tumor, she relied on her faith in God to get her through whatever lie ahead.

“I basically said, ‘God, this is yours because I can’t do this,’” said Megan.

And someone from above was watching over their son, according to Jairden.

When Jairden was recovering from surgery, he kept asking Megan about the man standing in the corner of his hospital room.

“He kept asking me, ‘Who’s that man over there?,’” Megan recalled. “And he’d say, ‘There’s a light in the corner.”

Megan told her young son, “I think that’s your angel, buddy. He’s watching over you.”

Jairden underwent his third chemotherapy treatment at Children’s this week. He should be finished with his last treatment in early December.

While Jairden’s curly, blond ringlets are starting to fall out because of the chemotherapy, his doctors have been amazed at how well he’s handled his treatments. The Loukotas eat a whole foods diet, which they started after their children were diagnosed with a corn allergy, and Jairden is still breast-feeding, which they feel has contributed to his good health. She has made him bone broth, which helps to restore minerals that were leeched from him during the chemotherapy process. Some children develop food aversions during chemotherapy but Jairden has been doing very well.

“Asa can get him to eat almost anything,” Megan said with a smile, speaking of her eldest and youngest sons.

The Loukotas said they’ve received a great deal of support during this ordeal. Jake works at Pequot Tool where his coworkers took up a collection, which was matched by the company. This provided the family with $1,700 in gas cards to get them to and from Jairden’s treatments at Children’s Hospital, something they are grateful for.

Megan said discovering Jairden’s tumor by accident was a blessing in disguise. It could have continued to grow and become attached to his small intestine or abdominal wall.

Megan said her son who struck Jairden with the golf club took the incident hard. Even though they’ve repeatedly told him it was actually a good thing it happened, he feels some responsibility for his brother’s situation. The couple also has a 4-year-old daughter, Grace.

Jairden is still Jairden, despite his chemotherapy treatments. He turns 3 on Nov. 13. His mother said he loves to set the table and do laundry and gets his brothers out of bed in the morning by telling them, “Boys, get up, let’s play.”

JODIE TWEED may be reached at jodie.tweed@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5858.

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