Most 19-year-old girls would hope for an iPhone or a new wardrobe for Christmas. But Jalyn Jones isn’t like most teens: All she wants for Christmas is a new jaw. The cost is high: $30,000. Her family can’t afford the fee, and they are praying that with support from the community, they will raise the money by December 27—the day before Jones is scheduled for surgery.

Two mothers, both entrepreneurs in the dental industry, are trying to help Jones. Lynn Schneider runs ArchWired.com, an informational Web site for people in braces. Pamela Waterman is author of The Braces Cookbook. Jones’ story struck a chord with both women, who have teenage daughters. They have banded together to try to help the Missouri teen.

Jones was born with Hemifacial Microsomia, a condition that leads to the lower half of one side of the face not fully developing. She has undergone five surgeries since infancy to help correct her facial deformities. As a child, she had severe sinus problems and headaches so severe that she vomited daily from the pain. She needs one more critical surgery to correct her problems, but her family cannot afford to pay for it, and their insurance doesn’t cover it.

Delaying the surgery is not an option. Jalyn has worn braces for more than 5 years to stabilize her jaw and palate. She is now at the point where the braces need to come off to avoid damaging her teeth and gums. But if the braces are removed before the surgery, the roof of her mouth will collapse. The right side of her jawbone does not extend far enough to join her skull. Instead of a ball joint, the bone ends in a stump. This is one problem the surgery will correct.

Jones and her family live in St Charles, Mo. They consulted four St Louis-area facial specialists, but none of them could perform the intricate surgery. All four recommended Larry Wolford, DDS, an internationally known specialist in Dallas. Wolford requires that his fee be made in advance of the surgery, but the family is struggling to raise both the surgery cost and travel expenses.

Schneider posted Jones’ story on ArchWired.com’s Metal Mouth message board. Readers worldwide were interested in helping, but wanted to know if they could contribute online. Schneider called Evelyn Clark, Jones’ grandmother, to discuss the idea, and soon a PayPal account was created to accept online donations. "A few years ago, people got burned by an online medical hoax, but I want to assure you that this story is real," Schneider said. "The family is desperate to raise money for Jalyn’s surgery by the end of this month. Every penny will go toward her surgery and expenses."

Schneider sent the newspaper article’s Web link to a number of dental industry colleagues, including Pam Waterman, author of The Braces Cookbook: Recipes You (and Your Orthodontist) Will Love. Waterman, also a braces wearer and mother to three teenage girls, called Clark. "She was just overwhelmed that this information was spreading from St Charles, Missouri, to reach around the country, and that complete strangers would want to help," Waterman said. "I can’t imagine what it would be like if my family had dealt with such a challenge, beginning with surgery on an infant. They’re such a determined and supportive family, I knew I wanted to help."

Schneider agreed. "The Jones family volunteers at their local food bank. They’re good people in a financial bind. I realized that I had a lot of contacts within the dental industry who might be able to help them," Schneider said. "Worldwide, the readers of ArchWired.com’s message board have also been incredibly supportive to Jalyn."

Jones’ local community has held several fund-raising events for the family, but they still have a long way to go. As of Wednesday December 12, $22,000 of the needed $30,000 had been raised, but the due date of December 27 is looming.

If you are interested in helping Jalyn and her family, send your donations to:

The Jalyn Lee Jones Medical Fund
Enterprise Bank and Trust Fund
1001 First Capitol Drive
St Charles, MO 63301

You can also call Evelyn Clark at (636) 947-7673 for more information. Online contributions can be made to Clark’s PayPal account for Jones, [email protected].

To reach Pamela Waterman, call (480) 897-3380.

To reach Lynn Schneider, call (877) 329-4733.