AJ’s Story

Our son, Arthur “AJ,” was born in January 2019 with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. After meeting Joni in 2020, Ellie’s Elves jumped in and became team AJ.

Cassaundrea Murray-Drews's sweet moment with her son, AJ at a Mellow Mushroom event.  Photo Courtesy of Joni Kanazawa.

In 2021, the Elves threw a reverse parade for our sweet boy’s birthday. In 2022, we went to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia for what was supposed to be a life-changing surgery. After two attempts, AJ had bleeding complications, and his medical team decided it wasn’t safe to continue. They also determined any further surgery would not be safe or have good outcomes, and AJ would come home on hospice care.

While we were in Philadelphia, Ellie’s Elves redid our girls’ bedroom to make them feel special and got our kids everything they needed to start school. It was a relief to have one less worry when we came home, and the girls started school on time.

After we came home, AJ was reevaluated for a transplant and turned down. Between July 2022 and now, AJ has been admitted to the hospital nine times, not to mention his countless medical appoinments. During this time, Ellie’s Elves has been there to help make sure we are ok and have everything we need.

The team is always willing to help us when a problem arises. We were once strangers, and now we are family. They even helped my daughter throw a lemonade stand because she wanted to buy her brother a heart when the doctors turned him down for the transplant.

The Elves held a toy drive for the hospital for AJ’s birthday, sent us groceries at the hospital, and sent socks when I forgot them during one hectic hospital admission. They have been a huge light in our darkness.

Cassaundrea (AJ’s Mom) | October 26, 2023