Dunkerton family cherishing its health this Christmas - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dunkerton family cherishing its health this Christmas


Every Christmas the Huntley family gets together and plays a competitive game of cards.

"We play Shanghai Rummi, that's a Huntley tradition," said Jessica Huntley.

This Christmas will be the first Christmas in several years where that card game begins to feel a little more like normal.

That's because the past several years have been riddled with challenges.

The family lost their home to a fire in 2008, but that paled in comparison to what they faced two years later.

In March of 2010, 30 year-old Jesse's health began to deteriorate.  Jesse, who had been battling cystic fibrosis since he was seven weeks old, needed new lungs or doctors said he wouldn't make it to spend Christmas with his wife and then two year-old-son.

"Didn't want to leave either of them, wanted to see him grow up, go to college, get married," Jesse Huntley said.

The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said Jesse's heart wasn't in good enough condition for transplant.  That's when the Huntley's turned to the University of Iowa.

"I've always been a positive person.  I just knew if somebody gave me a chance, I'd pull through," Jesse said. 

The university did give him that chance.  After a three month wait, doctors found his donor.

Jesse had successful surgery and a year later, is energetic, feeling well, and back to his old self.

"Now it's just staying healthy, being with my family," Jesse said.

"He's a totally different person.  We've got high hopes that when we get together and we play cards and do everything that a family should do, he gets to partake in everything he needs," Jessica said. 


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