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Little Devon, 1 lb., fights for life

NEW ORLEANS — Just a few short months ago, Devon Jackson and Ladeja Louper of Edgard were celebrating their pregnancy together.

Like lots of couples nowadays, they did a cool baby’s sex reveal with Louper tossing a secret-filled ball to Jackson, who hit it with a baseball bat. Pink powder burst into the air letting everyone know, it was a girl.

Or so they thought.

“The baby moved around so much, they thought it was a girl,” Jackson said. “I guess they couldn’t really see it.”

A few weeks ago, Jackson and Louper learned their baby, who was due May 15, not only was a boy, he was having severe health issues.

Ladeja Louper and Devon Jackson hold their son, Devon Jackson Jr., following his Feb. 7 birth.

His umbilical cord was not supplying enough blood to the baby.

While a full battery of tests were being run, Louper went into labor.

On Feb. 7, their son Devon Jackson Jr. was born at Ochsner’s Baptist in New Orleans, three months premature, weighing only one pound, three ounces and severely anemic. He already has had several blood transfusions and likely will need several more.

Little Devon is a fighter though, and his community is fighting for him.

His dad, Devon Sr., is a firefighter in Edgard, and his fellow firefighters have organized a blood drive to help little Devon get the blood he needs.

From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 20, the Ochsner Bloodmobile will be at the Hemlock Fire Station, 521 Hemlock St. in LaPlace to accept donations.

All blood types are needed, and every donor will receive a Blood Bank T-shirt.

Healthy individuals 16 years or older and weighing at least 110 pounds are eligible to donate blood. Donors who are 16 years old must weigh at least 130 pounds and have a signed parental consent. Individuals taking medication for high cholesterol or high blood pressure can donate.

Jackson said he was just talking to his fellow Edgard firefighter, Daniel Perrett, whose wife also is expecting a baby.

“I was just telling him what was going on and he thought it up,” Jackson said. “He asked if he could organize a blood drive.”

Perrett said he is willing to do “anything we can do to help,”

Jackson and Perrett have been working as firefighters in Edgard for approximately 11 years. Jackson started as a volunteer when he was just 17 years old and still a student at West St. John High.

“It’s been my lifelong dream,” he said.

He said it is gratifying that his fellow firefighters are rallying around his baby son.

“It’s wonderful,” he said. “It’s really an act of kindness.”

Jackson said his son is still fighting and he and Louper are spending a lot of time travelling to the city to be with him.

“He’s doing OK,” he said.

“They’re giving him steroids to help his lungs develop.”