If all goes well, 5-year-old Jason Overman will be moved from intensive care late Friday, four days after surgery to remove two cancerous tumors.
And, if all goes well, he will go to another hospital in mid-July for a bone-marrow transplant that could save his life.Jason suffers from neuroblastoma, a rare form of nerve cancer that leaves him with only a 20 percent chance of survival. With a marrow transplant from his 16-year-old sister, Julie, his chances will increase to 50 percent.
Jason is in serious but stable condition after his seven hour surgery this week. Doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center removed a tumor the size of half a walnut from between Jason's heart and spine, and they removed a tumor the size of a lime from his abdomen.
"Normally, doctors would have done it in two separate surgeries, but they put it together because of the time frame. Jason needs to be ready for his transplant in July," Colleen Clark, hospital spokeswoman, said.
"The surgery went well, and doctors got all of both tumors out. We are very, very pleased with the outcome."
Clark said Jason will probably be released the last week of June.
Kathy Woods, an Orem neighbor of the family, said this week has been hard on the Overmans.
"Jason is doing as well as doctors could hope, but the operation was almost as complicated as open-heart surgery. The family is allowed to see Jason for 10 or 15 minutes an hour, then they just have to wait another hour. I'm sure it must be hard for them to be away from him."
Jason's marrow transplant will cost $150,000, and removal of the needed marrow from his sister will cost another $5,000. The family's insurance will not cover the procedure since it is considered experimental. And the UCLA Medical Center, the hospital scheduled to perform the transplant, will not admit Jason until $130,000 has been raised.
Woods said the fund-raising effort began slowly about six weeks ago, but has now collected $107,000.
"The community has really responded. If people keep helping at this rate, Jason will get his transplant."
More than $10,000 was collected last weekend. Fund-raisers held benefit breakfasts, and sold donated items at a parking lot sale and an auction. Sale items included an Arabian colt, a mountain bike, gift certificates, quilts and a pure-bred Chesapeake Bay retreiver.
Several high schools have donated their senior class project funds, and schools have organized benefit dances and carnivals.
Saturday, Geneva Rock will sponsor a "pour-a-thon." It will donate $25 for every yard of concrete poured that day. Call 225-1012 for more information. A spokesman said workers are eager to help because Jon Overman, Jason's father, was a company employee until he started his own concrete business.
Tuesday, various entertainers will appear to raise money for Jason as part of the Miss Utah Scholarship Pageant celebration in Orem,
"It will be quality entertainment," Woods said. There will be singers. ballet dancers, folkdancers and cloggers, she said.
"We are hoping to get the Osmond Boys, but they are not definite yet. And Kent Norton from KSL will be the M.C."
There will also be a bake sale, but the most popular offering could be the dunking booth.
"People will be able to dunk the Orem City Police," Woods said. "They are being very good sports, and we hope to get a lot of interest."
Those wishing to donate by mail may sent contributions to any branch of Zion's First National Bank, addressed to the Jason Overman Cancer Fund.