There is an old African proverb that says, "It takes a village to raise a child." For 16-month-old Jaelyn Anderson, it’s taken more than a village. It’s taken CNN’s Anderson Cooper, a global community of supporters – and the IQAir Clean Air Team!
When Jaelyn was only six months old she developed myocarditis, a potentially fatal virus that causes the heart to swell. Doctors told her family that her only hope for survival was a heart transplant. But even with a new heart, her immune system was so severely compromised that for Jaelyn to go home in Port Richey, Fla., she would need medical-grade air to breathe at home. She needed a home virtually free of indoor environmental contaminants such as pollen and other allergens, dust, bacteria, pet dander, mold spores, even viruses. Any airborne pollutants could compromise Jaelyn’s delicate health.
Roger Anderson, Jaelyn’s grandfather, stepped in and coordinated a special fundraiser for the family to help pay the medical bills and provide a healthy home. Unfortunately, on Valentine’s Day, someone stole $3,000 that had been raised to help get Jaelyn a special whole-house air cleaning system. News media across the country carried stories about the heartless thieves.
By chance the story caught the eye of CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who was touched deeply by the story of the little girl who needed a new heart and a healthy home. He knew who might be able to help her – IQAir’s Clean Air Team. After all, for nine seasons the Clean Air Team had worked with ABC’s popular reality TV series, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," building healthy homes for children with a variety of medical conditions. If anyone could help Jaelyn Anderson, it would be IQAir. Cooper contacted IQAir President Frank Hammes. Would IQAir consider donating their Perfect 16 whole-house air cleaning system for the family?
"I told them we’d be happy to help," says Hammes. "But the Clean Air Team doesn’t cut corners. On hearing of the family, we had reason to believe there may be additional environmental problems with the home. We told them we would donate the air cleaning system, but only if the Clean Air Team could do a full indoor air quality inspection of the home."
Brook Anderson, Jaelyn’s mom, wept as Anderson Cooper told the family on a special episode of his talk show "Anderson Live" that he had arranged for the Clean Air Team to help their family.
It was an amazing moment for us," says Jaelyn’s grandmother, Kathy Anderson. "I’m a longtime fan of ‘Extreme Makeover.’ I knew just who the Clean Air Team was. All I could think was ‘Wow!’"
And Frank Hammes was very glad he insisted on first conducting the home inspection before installing the air cleaning system. The Clean Air Team conducted a number of scientific tests that revealed the home was infested with toxic mold. "It was really a worst-case scenario," says Hammes. "There was toxic mold hidden inside every wall, in the ceilings, even beneath the carpet and cabinetry. To the naked eye everything looked perfectly fine, but our advanced scientific testing uncovered a severe indoor air quality problem that could have severely compromised Jaelyn’s health."
Not one for half measures, the Clean Air Team enlisted the aid of Habitat for Humanity to strip the home completely down to studs. All drywall, flooring, carpet, cabinetry and ceilings were removed so that the entire home could be remediated for mold. Then, the Clean Air Team set out to design for Jaelyn what would truly be America’s healthiest home.
Hard tile surfaces replaced the old carpeting that once acted as a collection point for dust, allergens and other environmental irritants. Only special materials were used that did not off-gas chemicals. Back to New Heating and Cooling, an IQAir Preferred Contractor in nearby Homosassa, Fla., donated the installation of the Perfect 16. Another IQAir Preferred Contractor, So Cal Air Dynamics in Tarzana, Calif., donated air conditioning and ductwork. They helped the Clean Air Team to give Jaelyn the healthy home she needed.
"The finishing touch came when the Clean Air Team arrived onsite to test the air in the house before Jaelyn returned home. "The monitoring station indicated the air in the home was at 95% purity and climbing within just an hour of activating her air cleaning system," Hammes said, beaming.
And as the air quality in the home continued to improve by the minute, Hammes gave the Andersons the thumbs up. It was finally safe to bring Jaelyn home.
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