In March 2015, Justin was enjoying spring break with his family on a Disney Cruise when he began to have nausea and vomiting. Originally, the family thought Justin likely had contracted food poisoning but his condition didn’t improve. When they docked in Orlando, they brought Justin to the hospital where he was diagnosed with acute liver failure and was told he likely would need a liver transplant. The family was transported back to Houston via Texas Children's Hospital’s Kangaroo Crew.
As the family absorbed the devastating news of needing a liver transplant, further laboratory testing was being done. Justin was listed top of the transplant list on Monday, March 16th to only be removed the same day when Justin was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) – an exclusion criteria for transplants. Doctors fought to have Justin relisted on the transplant list because they could not begin his chemotherapy treatment until he had a new liver. Justin received his new liver on March 31st, 2015 and began chemotherapy immediately.
Justin’s chemotherapy journey has includes multiple hospital visits, labs and bone marrow biopsies. Because of his special case, Justin has suffered numerous bone fractures and avascular necrosis of his knee which has left him wheelchair bound for the majority of his treatment. Although currently in the long term maintenance phase of his treatment, Justin has had many hospitalizations which has kept him homebound for his schooling.