Mom of Medically Fragile Toddler Posts Heartbreaking Plea To Wear a Mask in Public

Scott McDonald wears a face mask
Joanna McDonald/Facebook

The debate over wearing a mask in public has been raging throughout the country for weeks, but one mom is hoping people stop arguing about it long enough to hear her plea. On Tuesday, Joanna McDonald took to Facebook to remind anti-maskers of yet another reason why they should reconsider their stance: For medically fragile children like her son, it could mean life or death.

  • In her post, Joanna shared a photo of her 3-year-old son, Scott.

    Scott was born with Cornelia de Lange syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects many parts of the body, and is characterized by slow growth before and after birth. It can lead to "short stature, intellectual disability that is usually moderate to severe, and abnormalities of bones in the arms, hands, and fingers," according to Genetics Home Reference, a website from the National Library of Medicine.

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  • Despite him being 3 years old, Joanna shares that her son weighs just 18 pounds, 8 ounces, and with that comes numerous health concerns.

    "He has no reserves of nutrients or energy," she wrote, adding that "when he gets sick, he crashes fast."

    He will also go from "babbling and bouncing around" to being unable to even lift his head, just a matter of hours later. Whenever he gets sick, he can easily lose a pound or more in weight, which for his small body can be devastating. 

    Scott also gets dehydrated quickly and and requires a constant fluids. 

    "It takes multiple needle pokes to draw blood and over an hour of a nurse digging around a vein to get blood back and draw blood," she continued.

    "He is rarely able to get IV fluids because his veins blow and can't support a catheter. There have been a very select few nurses who are able to get blood or start an IV. We are waiting for a port-a-cath to be surgically placed so that we have instant access every time we need it."

  • In short, Scott's needs require constant care and a special kind of vigilance -- which is why the pandemic has been especially stressful.

    Keeping him isolated has been Joanna's No. 1 job, but it hasn't been easy.

    "The only public place Scott has been since the Covid pandemic started was our hospital," his mom shared. "We have not brought him in public. We have been in stores we need to go to."

  • Joanna does this to limit her exposure to the virus, which has claimed the lives of more than 134,000 Americans and could easily take her son.

    And, when she goes out, she chooses to wear a mask -- something that has, unbelievably, become a point of contention in the US since the pandemic first hit.

    "I do this, not to protect myself, but because I am choosing to be a part of the COVID-19 solution," she explained. "I wear a mask to protect those around me from getting sick. I wear a mask to protect those around me from viruses and bacteria that I may carry. I wear a mask because I care about others and choose to put my own comfort aside to do what is my social duty to protect the life of others."

  • Many states require masks to be worn in stores, and some have even mandated them to be worn outside when social distancing is not possible.

    But not all of them do, which many experts believe is what has at least partially led to the recent uptick in coronavirus cases.

    "Should the municipal, provincial, or federal government have to mandate wearing masks in public?" Joanna asked in her post. "Of course not, it should not be a topic of discussion." 

    But that's not because she believes it's unimportant -- it's because she feels that it's so important, that people shouldn't have to be forced to do it to know that it's right.

    "It should be something that we all do to help one another and protect the most vulnerable members of our society," Joanna wrote. "Unfortunately, too many people have decided that because it's their body, they should choose, and they have selfishly chosen to put their own comfort first, instead of the lives of others."

  • Joanna was inspired to write the post while sitting in the hospital, awaiting results from her recent COVID-19 test.

    All the while, she was praying that she hadn't unknowingly contracted the coronavirus and passed it on to her son -- a very real and alarming possibility, considering new studies have found that asymptomatic and presymptomatic COVID-19 cases are the primary driver of the virus spread.

    "I am pleading everyone to just help out the mom of a medically fragile kid and wear your mask in public," she wrote. "Please, I beg you. Do it for the kids like Scott who have endured more medical procedures, needle pokes and hospital stays in their short lives than most endure in their entire lives."

  • And as for the argument that wearing a mask somehow limits a person's ability to breathe?

    She says that if her son can do it, so can you. 

    "His o2 averaged at 88 percent last night," Joanna wrote, "yet he still can wear one to help slow the spread."

  • Since she posted her plea, countless people have shared the mother's post and left comments of support.

    "We always wear a mask for the many reasons and this is one of the important ones to protect those who can't protect themselves," wrote one Facebook user. "Praying for you Scott, you're a fighter."

    "Sending prayers that Scotty makes a speedy recovery," another added. "We wear masks in public as it is the right thing to do. [My daughter] has not been exposed to anyone since this began but we worry by us going out to shop could we expose her as not everyone chooses to wear a mask."

    Her plea is making a difference. In at least one case, Joanna's post succeeded in changing the mind of someone who had previously decided not to wear a mask at all.

    "I have not worn one yet and was not planning on it but after reading this I owe your son an apology," the person wrote. "I will wear a mask. My thoughts are with you and your family."

    Here's hoping her message spreads far and wide, changing the minds of more people.