Joanna Jackson Price loves spending time with her family and inside classrooms.
But a traumatic brain experience changed her life and is keeping her away from what’s closest to her heart. Her supporters are working to get everything back to normal through a special fundraiser, chaired by Brenda Warren.
“I’ve known her since she was born,” Warren said. “Her family and I have been in the church all these years. She’s a very sweet loving person.”
Price spent many of her childhood years at Newton Grove United Methodist Church with her parents Shelton and Debbie Jackson. She spent a portion of her early life on a farm and attended East Carolina University and earned three degrees, a bachelor’s in special education; a master’s in special education; and a master’s in library science.
For 17 years, Price was a teacher and media specialist for 17 years. Before the incident, she was working as media coordinator at E.B. Frink Middle School of La Grange.
“She has a special ed degree, so you know she had a big heart for kids with special needs,” Warren said.
She’s married to Joey Price and together they live in Snow Hill with their two children, Pailyn and Brantlee.
In October, Price was 35 weeks pregnant and suffered a cardiac arrest in the middle of the night, caused by a dissected artery in her heart. The baby inside her suffered for few minutes because of anoxia, a lack of oxygen to the brain. The sound of Price gasping for air, woke her up. After calling 911, Price was revived and taken to Lenoir Memorial Hospital, where she stabilized with her baby. Later, Price was sent to Vidant Health Hospital in Greenville.
At the hospital, she had to go through an emergency C-section and delivered her baby baby, who was named Brantlee. She also went through a surgery to repair her dissected artery. The family thought everything was alright until the doctors found out that Price and the newborn suffered anoxic damage to the brain.
Brantlee stayed in Vidant’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for a month and in now at home with his father and sister. He’s recovering and will be monitored by doctors for one year to prevent complications.
After the baby left NICU, Price was transferred to WakeMed’s Brain Injury program in Raleigh and stayed for two months. She made small improvements each day. Her trach was removed and she began to drink thin liquids for nourishment. Strength in her arms and legs improved, but she was struggled to control movements. By mid-December, Price was sent to Liberty Commons Rehabilitation Center in Benson. A therapy team helped her improve her speech, muscle control and assistance. Now, she’s eating a full diet and is making functional and cognitive gains.
Following the traumatic experience, the family prayed to God for her recovery, which is occurring in small steps. Price is wheelchair bound and needs transportation for everyday activities. Through treatments, they hope she can go home as she can be.
Throughout the ordeal, her sister, Jennifer J. Bass did research and learned that anoxic brain injury patient should receive a full spectrum of rehab for the first six months to a year after the injury to help them make as many functional gains as possible.
“It is said that the more gains that are made within this time period will be a true indicator of how the patient (my sister) will progress in coming years. Please understand that a Brain injury is something that can be rehabilitated,” Bass stated. “It just takes time, and hard work to make as much recovery as possible.”
Bass hopes her sister can get a full spectrum of rehabilitation from a facility for half a year to a full year, so she can return home and be with her family.
“She has a 4-year-old daughter and a newborn baby boy that need her in their lives,” Bass said. “As a family, we are willing to help in Joanna’s recovery any way we can, however, Joanna’s current care and rehabilitation needs are beyond what we can manage along with our jobs, the small children and aging elderly parents at home.”
She applauded the work of nurses at Liberty for their assistance and work towards the recovery.
“My sister is a miracle woman already, however, I know that with the right help and rehabilitation, we will be amazed at what she will be able to do in the future,” Bass said.
The family’s ultimate goal is to bring her home when the time is right and not based on when insurance goes out.
“My sister most definitely needs this specialized rehabilitation to help her have a quality of life,” Bass said. “Why would you stop pushing for something if it is working? I am asking you to please help us make this miracle happen. She is more than just a number on a piece of paper. She is a daughter, a sister, a wife, and a mother. She is has worked hard in her life, and will continue to do so in this endeavor.”
A community benefit for Price which includes more than 30 organizations. A fundraiser is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Saturday, May 5, at Hobbton Elementary School, 12361 Hobbton Hwy., Newton Grove. It will include a dinner consisting of grilled thick cut marinated boneless pork chops, baked sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, and a homemade dessert. Tickets are $15. Children’s plates of grilled hot dogs will also be available with mac and cheese, and a dessert. The cost is $5.
Meals will be served from 4 to 8 p.m. with live entertainment from 5 to 7 p.m. A live auction will be held at 7 p.m. Proceeds from the event will go towards medical needs for recovery.
Newton Grove United Methodist Church usually host a major fundraiser around this time, but they made a decision to dedicate it to Price. It was moved to the school for space accommodations.
“There were so many people in the community praying for her and supporting the family,” she said. “We decided to open it up and make it a community-wide event.”
For more information about the event, contact Warren at 910-385-5096. funds may also be made online through Red Basket at https://bit.ly/2HKt49D. A Facebook page with updates is available at www.facebook.com/PrayersforJoanna/
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-592-8137. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.