MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - It's a race against the clock as a Mid-South family fights to get their child treatment that could save his life.
For nearly a year the boy’s parents have found it almost impossible to get him to eat. There is a possible solution, but the family has run into a major roadblock.
Right now Jesse is receiving treatment at home through a program under the Department of Education. The problem is, it's not working.
A few months ago, his therapist put him with a group of other children his age dealing with the same problem, and they saw progress. Even so, the state is denying the child access to that group therapy.
It's an uphill battle feeding one-year-old Jesse Kopacko. Most of what goes in eventually comes right back out.
“We’re lucky to get 250 calories, 300 calories a day and he needs 1000 at his age,” said the boy’s mother, Sarah Kopacko.
His parents were denied when they tried to put Jesse in group therapy through TEIS, Tennessee's Early Intervention System, even though family doctors and a TEIS therapist say that treatment would likely him put on the road to recovery.
According to a growth chart, Jesse is roughly 6 1/2 pounds underweight.
Time isn't on the Kopacko's side. The family's doctor says if Jesse doesn't gain enough weight in a month he'll have to undergo surgery, the same life-altering surgery his older brother went through for the same problem.
“Life-altering is an understatement. His brother has to sit four hours a day just to get the feeds. Seven hours total to get feeds and let it digest,” Kopacko said.
TEIS told the Kopacko's Jesse could not join the group therapy because he did not have any mental or physical impairment.
“Yes, he was normal in those situations, but he's not eating. He can't sustain life if he's not eating,” Kopacko said.
Even with evidence suggesting the opposite, Kopacko's are aware group therapy might not be the silver bullet. They just want their son to have a fighting chance.
TEIS sent abc24.com a statement saying the treatment Jesse is getting is what the family agreed to.
The Kopacko's say the in-home therapy was all the program would offer and it would not budge on letting Jesse into the group therapy, which costs the state less money than the in-home treatment.