CUMBERLAND – Kayden Watson calls it his “Monkey Friend,” a worn-out monkey blanket that has been his comfort keepsake since birth and his constant companion during 11 surgeries to repair gastroschisis, a congenital abdominal wall defect.
Kayden, 2½, lost his monkey blanket Saturday during a family outing at the Dairy Queen in North Attleboro and his mother is asking for the public’s help in finding it.
“This is Kayden’s best friend. We have searched high and low and are hoping someone may have picked it up,” says Jennifer Harken of Cumberland.
Kayden had the monkey blanket with him when Harken and her husband Dan Watson arrived at the Dairy Queen on North Washington Street, but noticed it was gone when Kayden began crying on the way home.
They searched the truck but found nothing.
“We don’t know if he left it behind at the Dairy Queen or if it accidentally blew out of the window on the way home,” says Harken, adding Kayden is devastated and hasn’t stopped crying since Saturday.
“My aunt tried to buy him a new one, but all he wants is his Monkey Friend back,” she says.
The monkey is described as brown and worn, with a plush head and arms and a body fashioned into a little blanket.
When Harken arrived back home she called the Dairy Queen to see if the monkey blanket was there.
“They really went all out. They searched the grounds and went through the dumpster, but found nothing,” she said.
If it did get tossed out of the window by mistake, Harken is hoping someone along their travel route may have found it.
The family lives in Cumberland and drove down Highland Avenue to Curren Road to Nate Whipple Highway to Route 1 into North Attleboro.
“I know it’s a long shot, but if anyone finds it, it would really be wonderful because Kayden has had it since birth and has been in 11 surgeries with him,” says his mother.
If anyone happens to find Kayden’s monkey blanket they can call (401) 484-2769 or send a message via Facebook at Kayden’s Korner.
Kayden was born in 2010 with Gastroschisis, a congenital condition where there is incomplete formation of the abdominal wall so that the contents protrude outside the body. It’s estimated that about 1,871 babies are born each year in the U.S. with gastroschisis.
Kayden was born at 9:38 am weighing a little under 4 pounds. Immediately after his birth, he was taken away to wrap the organs that were on the outside. According to his mother, the surgeons had to perform yet another operation because the hole the intestines were seeping out of was too small for the silo bag and they needed to bring him to the operating room.
When he was 9 days old his doctors discovered there was a large amount of air in his abdomen so again Kayden was taken into the operating room. After that surgery he was on a breathing machine for over a week.
Kayden would eventually undergo nine more surgeries.
His mother says Kayden will eventually need a liver and small bowel transplant.
“But that’s something we try not to think about,” she says. “Right now, we’re just hoping against all odds that we can find his monkey because that what’s important to him right now.”
(Follow Joseph Fitzgerald on Twitter @jofitz7)