Children First: Heart families face lifelong challenges - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Heart families face lifelong challenges


One in every 110 children born in the US has a heart defect. For families in KOTA territory, finding the proper specialized care is only the start of a straining life long challenge.

But there is help. One local organization aims to help 'heart families'  with financial and emotional issues that come along with the diagnosis.

Meet Reese Sidle, a feisty 5 year old with a big family.
" [He's] out-going kid when you know him, kind of bossy, but that's ok considering his condition, we don't mind," said Emily Lamphert, Reese's sister.

His congenital heart condition- has required amazing strength and flexibility from his family since just days after he was born.
"We didn't realize there were any issues after we had him. Then we found out he had Truncus Arteriosus and that we were going to be life-flighted to Omaha child's [Hospital] the next morning," said Heather Sidle, Reese's mother.

Unfortunately, that's how most parents find out their child has a congenital heart condition. And its just the beginning of a long ordeal.
"We were flown to Omaha with what we had on. A checkbook for out of state, no credit cards. I thought 'this is crazy, not everyone goes through this'," said Dixie Varns.
Varns, who's now teenage son Tucker also has a heart defect, helped form the local chapter of the Mended Little Hearts support group for families facing some overwhelming challenges.
"Children can't be in day care. What's a cold to us could be the flu to them. Chicken pox can kill someone. One parent has to quit their job to help take care of their little one. It's a huge financial burden," said Varns.
In addition to providing emergency resources, the group can also help find funding for costly care and travel expenses.
"We try to help with a lot of the doctors, let them know we're here for support so people don't feel we're all alone. We can help them look for resources to help make it financially," said Varns.
And it seems the troubles of the past have fused a deep bond within the sidle family.
"We took for granted that he would be a healthy baby like everyone else, and we were devastated so we don't take much for granted anymore," said Sidle.

For more information on when the Mended Little Hearts group meets or how you can get involved, please visit:

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