Baby Girl Undergoes Risky Heart Surgery

ISANTI, Minn. (WCCO) — An Isanti couple has watched their little girl endure some really tough days in her young life. Hailey isn’t even a year old  and already, she’s pulled through a risky complicated surgery on her heart.

She was born with a rare congenital heart condition.  Doctors had no choice but to operate. Today, she’s making huge strides, but her family struggles aren’t over.

Seven-month-old Hailey is playful and all giggles now — it’s a sound her parents Jennifer and Scott Helstrom love to hear.

Last March, Hailey was born in the back of the family’s van, while on the way to the hospital. Right away, they knew something was wrong.

“Being born in the back of the van her first breath was of 37-degree air so they thought that was what her problem was,” said Scott Helstrom.

Shortly after her birth, she was diagnosed with a heart defect and had surgery when she was just 2 weeks old.  Doctors put a donor valve and a pacemaker to keep her heart going. But it didn’t work for long.

“In July her donor valve that she received had collapsed,” said Jennifer Helstrom. “Everything started turning blue, her nail beds were blue, all around her mouth was blue.”

Surgeons went in to fix it, but they found another problem.

“The left side of her heart was not squeezing the blood out,” Jennifer said.

Doctors said Hailey would need a heart transplant.

“When the phone call came that the heart was available. I was nervous. I had a hard time driving the car,” Jennifer said.

Hailey’s surgery was historic. Her surgery was only the second heart transplant to be performed on a baby less than a year old in Minnesota, this year.

She had the surgery at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

“The surgery is more complicated and there certainly is a surgical mortality for infant transplants than transplants in older children,” said Dr. Rebecca Ameduri, a cardiologist. “She’s most likely going to do very well long term.”

Scott hasn’t been able to work full time since the heart surgery and the family is struggling with medical bills. If you would like to help the Helstrom’s, a benefit is being held this Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the American Legion in Apple Valley.

Sonya Goins, Producer
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