As appeared in the Union Leader, June 10, 2006, page A6
Jesse Isabelle, 14, "A
Gift of God" Dies
Jesse Isabelle endured 23 major surgeries in his 14 years of
life. When he was born, doctors said his time would be brief. He
never complained about a host of medical problems that sent him
in and out of the hospital, family members said yesterday. Not
when he began to go blind at 10 years old. Not when younger kids
he played with started to outrun him.
“He's a miracle. He's
been a miracle since he was born,” said his mother, Carol
Yesterday, Jesse died at Perkins School for the
Blind in Watertown, Mass., which he began attending this school
year, an experience family members said had added even more zest
to an already full life.
“We got used to the idea he was
going to be around forever,” his aunt, Laurie Lawrence said.
“Because he's beaten the odds so many times.”
Jesse – whose name means a gift of God – was born with
Alagille syndrome, a rare chromosome disorder that affects the
liver and other organs, including the heart, eyes, spine and
kidneys. At five weeks, doctors told his mom he was too sick to
go home. “She took him home and has been his nurse ever since,”
Last night, the family gathered at the Walnut Street home of
Jesse's grandparents, laughing at memories and struggling
against tears. They talked of a child who liked to challenge
patrons of his mom's restaurant to tic tac toe games. Who was
always affectionate and loved to hug. Who decorated his rooms in
Manchester and at Perkins School with Red Sox memorabilia.
On June 21, Jesse was scheduled to throw the first pitch at
the Red Sox game, his mother said. He had recently toured Fenway
Park with his class, and three years ago got to meet the team as
a wish granted through the High Hopes Foundation. “He wanted to
be a baseball player,” said Sheehan, who owns the Red Arrow
Diner in Manchester.
“Baseball and artist like his Pops.”
“Pops,” stepfather Dennis Sheehan, said Jesse was also an
avid bowler, piano player and swimmer. Strong of faith, he was
the loudest singer in church.
“He would love you to death,”
Dennis Sheehan said. “He was full of unconditional love.”
In February, the family moved back to Manchester, after
living in Warner. Jesse had suffered a grand mal seizure on the
back roads of town, and his mom said she wanted him to be in a
place that offered full medical facilities.
Perkins School helped introduce Jesse, who was also deaf and
wore a hearing aid, to other children who suffered similar
medical problems, his family said. It opened up a new world for
him. “He just started changing,” his mom said. “He was a
This winter, Jesse won a competition
designing a Christmas card for Perkins School, a card that gets
sent across the world, his family said.
©2008 Union Leader Corporation, Manchester , N.H.
Condolences to Jesse's Family ~ May God Be With You All