COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) – A Colorado combat veteran is facing a new life-or-death challenge. His son Hawk was born three months premature. Now friends and total strangers are stepping up to help the family in the wake of mounting medical bills.
“This is a big lesson in me having to surrender, and let other people be in control, which I’m not used to,” Andrew Bankey told FOX31.
A month ago, Bankey’s wife Ela went into early labor in their Blanca home. Bankey rushed her to the hospital in Alamosa, where their baby boy was born 12 weeks premature and weighed just two pounds. He was then transported by air ambulance to a hospital in Colorado Springs, where he’s spent weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit.
“The jet bill going from Alamosa to Colorado Springs, that was $90,000,” Bankey said.
Adversity is something he can handle. He’s an Army veteran who spent 10 years in the service. He deployed to Iraq twice.
“Anbar province, west of Fallujah. Very hostile area at the time when I was there,” he said.
Bankey even survived life-threatening post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, when he returned.
“It culminated all the way to 2014, where I wound up in the hospital trying to take my own life,” he said.
He’s been through struggles in the past, and he knows his family will get through this one too.
“It put us in a bind financially, and Hawk coming, you know, basically three months before he was supposed to really hit us by surprise, and we weren’t really ready for it,” he said.
Reluctantly, Bankey set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for the family’s medical bills. Already, friends and strangers have donated more than $10,000.
FOX31 decided to help, too.
“I think it’s beautiful. He definitely deserves it. More than anybody I’ve ever known. He’s always giving for everybody, taking care of everybody,” his wife told FOX31.
Every little bit helps. And each donation has been as welcome as the news the couple received days ago. Hawk is thriving – gaining weight. He’s up 12 ounces already, and when he gets to four pounds, he should be able to go home. But that means another month or so in the hospital, and his parents can only see him every other day because of COVID-19 rules.
“It’s a lot of stress on our family not being able to be together as a family unit and be able to have our son with both mom and dad at least, but we’re just doing everything we can to make it through day by day at this time,” Ela said.
If you’d like to help the family, donations are being collected on their GoFundMe page.
To nominate a veteran, active duty service member, military family member or volunteer for our Hero of the Month honors, visit the nomination page.