Sawyer Mobley embarked on a Disney cruise to the Bahamas last September through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Now Sawyer and his family are making a much different trip.
The 9-year-old, who has battled cystic fibrosis since he was a newborn, left a week ago with his mother, Angel Mobley, for St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
On the cruise, Sawyer was able to get autographs from his favorite Disney characters and swim with dolphins.
In St. Louis, the young boy will be placed on the active list for a double lung transplant.
And though he’s nervous about his upcoming surgery, Sawyer lit up while talking about the small plane that would take him and his mother to Missouri.
“I like it when your stomach drops,” he said. “It’s fun. It’s like a roller coaster.”
The past few years also could be compared to a roller coaster ride for Sawyer’s parents.
Doctors decided in July that Sawyer, who they consider a good transplant candidate, needed to be brought to the hospital so he would be ready as soon as organs become available.
This summer Sawyer’s condition began deteriorating quickly after he caught a common virus most children can fight off.
“Anything that someone else gets that’s no big deal really puts him out,” said Mobley, of Martinez.
In addition to cystic fibrosis, Sawyer was infected with a rare bacteria called Segniliparus rugosus at age 4. Together, the two illnesses have left him wheelchair bound and reliant on an oxygen machine.
Sawyer now requires four respiratory treatments daily and constant IV therapy, his mother said.
“We have fought a bitter battle with this,” Mobley said.
The duo will soon be joined in St. Louis by Sawyer’s twin brother, Aiden, and Mobley’s sister and her two children.
“It makes me feel a lot better,” said Sawyer about his brother being there with him.
The family likely will spend the twins’ birthday on Nov. 26 in St. Louis as Sawyer waits for his lungs, which take about three months on average.
Mobley has already leased an apartment near the hospital and Aiden will go to school in the city.
Mobley, a nurse, will work part-time and fly to Augusta every other weekend for work while Sawyer’s father visits his sons in St. Louis.
After the transplant, Mobley said she and Sawyer will remain at the hospital for another three months while his immune system gets stronger.
Sawyer, an avid fan of the University of Georgia Bulldogs football team as well as Spiderman and Hulk, played T-ball and soccer before he became very sick. In his dreams, he’s still able to.
“He said, ‘In my dreams, I can run and play. I can do everything that normal kids can do.’” Mobley said. “‘That’s why I always remember my dreams.’”
Mobley, who describes herself as independent, said she’s learned to humble herself and receive help from those in the community.
“You can get help from other people and it not be a bad thing,” she said. “It’s a blessing.”
At Bel Air Elementary School, which the twins attend, retired teacher Debbie Callan is spearheading fundraising efforts.
During the school’s open house, Callan said both money and awareness were raised as staff sold “Snickers for Sawyer.”
This week, pupils also will decorate a tree on campus with green ribbons and wear bracelets and green clothes in support of Sawyer. They hope to send pictures to their classmate while he’s in the hospital.
Also in the works is a faculty yard sale in October, a 5K run in March and an upcoming concert.
Callan, who taught the twins in first grade, often would teach Sawyer at home when he was too sick to attend class.
“Even as tired as I might have been or had my mind on something, I would always leave just feeling uplifted,” she said. “He always knows the right things to say.”
Callan described Sawyer as a positive and optimistic child who “has a heart for others.”
“I have never heard him complain about anybody,” she said. “He has always been the best friend to everybody.
“He’s just an amazing little fellow.”