When Brian Stewart sent his estranged wife to the hospital canteen for a coffee, he had more in mind than just a paternal moment with his 11-month-old son Brian Jr. For as soon as the baby’s mom was out of sight, Stewart took out a vial of HIV-tainted blood and pumped it into his son’s veins.
The baby’s mom returned to find the boy screaming in his father’s arms as his tiny body tried to assimilate a stranger’s incompatible blood. And the callous dad was sure that the wheels of his monstrous plan were now in motion: the son he did not want, and certainly did not want to pay child support for, would not survive.
But amazingly – despite developing AIDS and being given little chance of survival by doctors – Brian Jr. did miraculously beat the odds, growing up into the strapping 25-year-old he is today. Meanwhile, his father is currently serving a life-sentence – after a judge told him to “burn in hell.”
Brian Jr. has since shaken off all the threads of his evil dad, changing his name to Brryan Jackson. But despite so far beating AIDS and three other diseases that were cruelly given to him in that single injection, he has been left with 70 percent hearing loss and a resultant mild speech impediment. Recently, he delivered a witness statement to Missouri’s Department of Corrections – with the intention of keeping his dad behind bars for life.
Jackson’s parents met when both were training to be medics in Missouri. They started living together, and by the summer of 1991 his mother discovered that she was pregnant with Jackson. In October 2016 Jackson would tell the BBC, “When I was first born my father was really excited, but everything changed when he went away for Operation Desert Storm. He came back from Saudi Arabia with a completely different attitude towards me.”
Stewart returned convinced that the boy was not his and demanded paternity tests. Moreover, when Jackson’s mom left and took the baby with her, the estranged couple fought bitterly, and Stewart refused to hand over payments for child support. As Jackson said to the BBC, “He used to say things like, ‘Your child’s not going to live beyond the age of five.’”
Meanwhile, Stewart was working in a laboratory as a blood tester and had begun stealing samples of contaminated blood. Then when Jackson was hospitalized with asthma at 11 months of age, his mother let Stewart know – and out of the blue, he turned up for that fateful hospital visit. Jackson told the BBC, “He was hoping I would die off so he wouldn’t have to pay child support.”
After the secret injection, then, Jackson was eventually released from hospital, and yet he began to fade away. Over four years, his frantic mom took him from doctor to doctor – but none could furnish her with a diagnosis. And it was only after he had been tested for an exhaustive list of diseases that his pediatrician called for an HIV test. Jackson was consequently diagnosed with AIDS along with three “opportunistic infections” and given no hope of survival.
Furthermore, his treatment was punishing, with 23 pills, a couple of IV bags and three injections needed daily. And yet while the mass medication fried his auditory nerves, Jackson astounded doctors by getting better.
School, on the other hand, was a nightmare, as frightened classmates shunned him; he even contemplated suicide. As Jackson told Fox 2, “I had three knives in front of me and thought, why me? Why me? But I realized there is hope, and it’s not about what you have, it’s what you can give.”
As a Christian, moreover, Jackson found strength in his faith. And over time, that led to him forgiving his father and praying for his salvation – despite the monstrous act that the man had carried out when Jackson was just an infant.
And, fortunately, Jackson is in remarkably good health given that, in childhood, he was virtually at death’s door. He told the BBC, “I’m as healthy as a horse! Healthier than a horse! I am beyond that! I might be slightly chunky, but I’d still consider myself a good athlete.”
“Right now my T-cell count is above average. That gives me virtually no chance of passing the virus on,” he added. “I’ve gone from taking 23 pills a day to taking one. I still have AIDS, though. Once an HIV diagnosis, always an HIV diagnosis.”
And, as Jackson recovered, he did more than confound his doctors. Indeed, today he travels around America as a motivational speaker, spreading his story of hope.
What’s more, he recently got the news that he had been hoping for: the Missouri Department of Corrections told him that his witness statement had helped to disallow his father parole for another five years. Jackson explained, “He didn’t just try to kill me, he changed my life forever. He was responsible for the bullying, he was responsible for all the years in hospital.”
He continued, “At first, I was very angry and bitter. I grew up watching movies where fathers cheer on their sons from the sidelines. I couldn’t wrap my mind around how my own father could do that to me.”
But he isn’t bitter now. Indeed, he told the BBC, “I would love to be a dad. I’d like to root my kids in hope. I want to give them a vision that the world is a peaceful place and I am always going to be there to protect them. Through bad things, great things are possible.”
Jackson even joked, “I think I’d be a cool dad. But, well, the guy who thinks he’s the cool dad is really the most embarrassing. I have a little bit of fear of that. I don’t want my kids to think I’m an embarrassing dad.”
And despite him being HIV positive, fathering children should not be a problem for Jackson. A technique known as “sperm washing” can ensure that he could become a father without transmitting the infection to a partner or his offspring.
But finding a partner is not so easy; Jackson has revealed that various blossoming relationships have each been ended after the parents of his intended stepped in because of fear of his disease. And so while he may have so far surmounted the killer virus that his father deliberately gave to him, he still has to overcome the attitudes of a frightened world. However, given that Jackson’s motto is “Make a choice – victim? Or victory!” it’s clear that he won’t rest until he does.