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Little Grapes - Where Are They Now?

Bravery, spirit and the will to overcome obstacles; these are just a few words that describe what it means to be a "little grape." This year, in celebration of The Big Grape’s 20th anniversary, we caught up with a few of the past "little grapes" to see first-hand how your support continues to change the lives of community for years to come.


Kendon

Braveheart to Athlete: Meet Kendon

Most six-year-olds can’t wait for a trip to Disneyland. For Kendon, he couldn’t wait for a new heart. In 2003, a simple case of sour stomach led a young family of five on a journey that would end with a new outlook on life.

After being admitted to Avera Children’s Hospital, the medical team worked quickly to save his life; draining excess fluid from his heart and performing vital tests and scans. Shortly after he was diagnosed with a deadly heart condition and they began to treat his symptoms.

But the disease was progressing very quickly. Soon the word “heart transplant” was first brought up. Three months later, Kendon received his new heart. After a successful surgery, Kendon began living life to the fullest and now in high school where he even participates in school sporting activities. Thanks to generous partners from like you, Kendon’s parents continue to be amazed at what he can do both on and off the court and are grateful for the care they received.


Eryka

Fearless and Fun: Meet Eryka

A miracle baby twice – young Eryka spent most of her early life battling health-related issues. After a rough start as a premature twin, she managed to lead an active life with her siblings on their farm. But a tractor accident landed her back in the hospital with life-threatening head and arm injuries. But her strong will came through once again.

She underwent regular physical therapy and follow-up appointments at Avera Children’s Hospital. She quickly was on her way to recovery and isn’t letting her medical issues get in the way of her adventurous spirit.

Today, Eryka is now a healthy, happy little 11-year-old. She still sees double and probably always will but it doesn’t slow her down at all. She loves reading and playing softball. This year, she started playing the flute and enjoys time spent outdoors with her older brother and twin sister.


Mason

Journey to Health: Meet Mason

At her 20-week ultrasound, first-time mother, Jessica, thought it would be a typical appointment – find out the gender and take home pictures. Instead, she learned she carried a deadly antibody that would threaten the life of her unborn child.

Diagnosed with a syndrome that causes pregnancy-related complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm delivery or severe preeclampsia, Jessica and her husband Joe, expected a stillborn child to be their fate.

But week after week, Jessica’s body reacted positively to a blood thinner which was administered to allow the pregnancy to progress to 26 weeks. She underwent an emergency caesarean section and welcomed little Mason into their lives, weighing a mere 1 lb, 3 oz. In the beginning, Mason struggled with infections but went on to reach milestones while staying in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Avera Children’s.

Today, Mason is a very happy, healthy second grader and has no lasting health effects from his severe prematurity. He enjoys waterskiing, knee boarding, wake surfing, music and reading. Go get 'em Mason!


Zach

A Second Chapter: Meet Zach

In 2006, Zach had his first major hospital stay when he overcame E coli. He was treated for the deadly infection and went on to make a full recovery; leading the life of a healthy, active, sports loving 7-year-old. But this wouldn’t be Zach’s only medical obstacle. On December 1, 2015 at the young age of 16, Zach suffered a brain aneurysm while playing basketball. He was immediately flown to Sioux Falls where an emergency surgery saved his life. He spent the next few weeks under observation and was discharged on Christmas Eve.

While Wayne and Becki still consider that the best Christmas gift they have ever received, they also credit the quality care he received. Nine months since his surgery, a determined Zach was back playing varsity football. After a successful high school career, Zach graduated with honors and lettered in many sports. Today, he is currently a freshman at South Dakota State University where he is majoring in Computer Science.


Lauren

Inspiration and Determination: Meet Lauren

Growing up is hard. But growing up while undergoing cancer treatment is even more difficult. Meet Lauren, a bright young woman whose life was on the line when she was diagnosed with pediatric cancer 10 years ago. At the age of 12, Lauren’s life went from lockers and basketball games to hospital beds and medications. Despite her diagnosis, Lauren forged ahead and continued to have a positive attitude – even wanting to work in medicine someday so she can help kids in similar situations.

Today, Lauren is living out her dream. With her cancer in remission for over ten years, she went on to graduate high school and college and is currently working as a registered nurse. To this day, she will never forget her time being sick, but credits the loving care givers at Avera Children’s Hospital for shaping her life and is grateful for events like The Big Grape for supporting vital programs and services for children.


Catherine

Little Fighter: Meet Catherine

Young Catherine was your typical little four-year-old girl until one January morning when her life changed forever. While the rest of her family was getting out of bed and going about their daily routines, Catherine woke to find she couldn’t walk.

Her parents immediately rushed her to the local clinic where she underwent countless tests and saw numerous physicians. After weeks of pain and discomfort, her parents took her to Avera Children’s Hospital. Catherine was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis and began several medications. Shortly after, she was able to walk again. Catherine continued to undergo treatment and quickly adapted to her obstacles. As for her parents, they remain thankful to Avera and are forever grateful for the exceptional care their daughter received.

Today, Catherine still receives regular infusions to keep her pain and inflammation under control. Although she will likely need a double hip replacement before she's an adult as a result of her disease, Catherine continues to enjoy each day that she's feeling well by reading, doodling and playing with her siblings. Way to go Catherine!


Micah and Jase

Brotherly Love: Meet Micah and Jase

Quite the charmers, 2-year-old Jase and his little brother Micah were all smiles and the best of friends in 2010 when the Big Grape first featured their stories. You would never have known by looking at their photo that they were once fighting for their lives. Both were born weeks premature and spent time in the Avera McKennan NICU before going home.

Today, Jase is now 12 years old and continues to beat the odds. He has zero lung issues (after struggling with premature lung disease); zero heart issues (after dealing with conditions with holes in his heart); zero growth issues, zero eye problems (after having the vision-saving laser surgery while in the NICU) and zero developmental issues. He remains a healthy, strong boy who is active, loves sports, reading and music. His ten-year-old younger brother Micah also remains in good health. Both smart and active, the kind-hearted cutie hopes to someday be a veterinarian. He is also an avid fisherman, plays soccer, enjoys reading, bad jokes and playing games.


Natallie

Giving Hope: Meet Natallie

After a typical pregnancy, young Natallie was welcomed into the world on August 1, 2012. But within the first five weeks, her parents began to notice their infant develop twitching movements. After watching with a closeful eye, they decided to make a doctor’s appointment. What they found out changed their lives forever.

After much testing and observation, the caregivers at Avera Children’s Hospital informed the new parents that their infant was having seizures. The cause was unknown. After much testing, Natallie was eventually diagnosed with Malignate Migrating Partial Seizure Disorder. Natallie proved to be a fighter and despite frequent hospital stays and emergency visits, her family remained optimistic.

Today, Natallie is now 6 1/2 years old and attends kindergarten and is the sweetest, happiest little girl. Thanks to the quality care she receives at Avera Children's Hospital, she went from having over 100 seizures a day to having only a few and some days no seizures at all! Although doctor appointments and hospital stays remain a part of young Natallie's life, she continues to enjoy hobbies which include playing games, music, fishing, swimming and spending time with her family. Natallie has made huge strides in her health and it shows; she continues to love life!


Andrew

Making Strides: Meet Andrew

Born with a rare genetic birth disorder called CHARGE syndrome, Andrew became a familiar face at Avera Children’s Hospital. Despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles, children like Andrew born with the multiple life-threatening defects of CHARGE often surpass expectations. Andrew was one of them.

He continued his battle but with strong determination and character. His family says he's a true joy to be around and an inspiration to others facing similar obstacles.

Today, Andrew is 14 years old and has made tremendous strides over the last couple of years. Recent procedures have improved his vision and overall quality of life. For hobbies, Andrew enjoys horseback riding and playing basketball with the Special Olympics. He also enjoys bowling and playing video games.


Kaitlynn

Always Smiles: Meet Kaitlynn

A winning attitude and warm heart may have earned young Kaitlynn the title of Miss Congeniality at a local Snow Queen contest in December of 2011, but after suffering life-threatening injuries from a rollover car accident, her recovery has proven to be one competition after another. Thankfully, her team of caregivers at Avera Children’s Hospital gave her a chance to win… and lead a normal life.

After being treated for broken bones at a local hospital, she didn't get on the road to recovery but rather the road to Sioux Falls where a team of caregivers stood by waiting for her arrival. During an exploratory surgery, Kaitlynn suffered two strokes and additional life-threatening injuries were uncovered. After months of rehabilitation, she began to show signs of progress but still struggled with speech.

Today, Kaitlynn is embracing life and has recently gotten married. Although she is still unable to speak, she has learned to communicate through sign language. She was able to graduate with her high school class and continued her education to become a massage therapist. Currently, she is working as a dietary aid at a nursing home and enjoys living military life and spending time with her nieces, teaching them how to sign. Despite all the struggles, she continues to smile.


Grace

A Reason to Celebrate: Meet Grace

Grace Rule was a smart, vibrant ten-year-old who was hospitalized for 19 days in May 2009. It was just a couple days after school got out when Grace got sick. Excited for the summer, Grace went to dance class one day but came home complaining of pain in her shoulder. Within an hour she had uncontrollable vomiting and was taken to Avera Children's Hospital where she was diagnosed with pneumonia and needed a chest tube.

Grace's first week in the hospital was the toughest. She began her stay in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). It was also her 10th birthday. On her special day, she got to move from the PICU to a regular room. When she arrived, the nurses had decorated her room for her birthday. After finding out Grace had to cancel her birthday party, the Child-Life Specialists arranged friends to celebrate with her.

Today, Grace is a student at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota and is living an active college life. She is involved in various sports but most enjoys visiting her grandparents at Avera Prince of Peace and spending time with friends and family. Thanks to the quality care she received, her immune system has gotten much stronger with age. Way to go Grace!


Eve

Strength and Determination: Meet Eve

With a story of sheer determination, it’s the power of care and compassion that continues to shine bright on spirited Eve. The three-year-old toddler accidentally swallowed acid while living in an orphanage in Liberia. Despite limited resources and access to advanced healthcare, Eve survived only to rebound with deadly esophageal issues years later. But with the love and concern of one young couple from Iowa who had started a non-profit organization in Liberia, Eve was taken to the United States where she received state-of-the-art care. Although her condition was far bleaker than initially expected, she continues to undergo surgeries to dilate her esophagus and the family remains optimistic for her future.

Today, Eve remains happy and healthy despite undergoing a grand total of 54 surgeries to stretch her esophagus and eliminate the scar tissue that resulted from the accident. Eve is joyful and kind, friendly, outgoing and has a number of hobbies and interests. People are really important to Eve and she has a special way of making everyone around her feel loved and appreciated. Thank you Eve for being an inspiration to us all!


Joseph and Jordan

Double the Love: Meet Joseph and Jordan

Brothers Joseph and Jordan are true fighters. Jordan was born with Congenital Merosin deficient muscular dystrophy which was diagnosed through a muscle biopsy when he was only a few months old. Young Joseph spent the next few years in and out of the hospital.

His brother Jordan was born 2 years after Joseph with the same symptoms. He was also diagnosed with the same type of muscular dystrophy. Jordan also frequented the hospital for his first years.

Today, since participating in the The Grape in 2007, Joseph and Jordan have had several surgeries but never let their medical conditions hold them back. The two brothers have enjoyed several fun trips such as Disney World and the Daytona Speedway. They have even ventured out of the country into Mexico! To aid in their daily activities, a new furry family member joined the brothers. Since receiving Kocoa, their therapy dog, the two boys have enjoyed her company and feel truly blessed with the addition to their family.

Today, Joseph is now 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. He enjoys rooting for the Vikings and watching NASCAR. His younger brother Jordan is 14 years old and is in 8th grade. His hobbies include playing with Legos and watching YouTube. They are both very smart and do well in school. Although their health conditions remain the same, they have managed to reduce their hospital stays. Keep up the great work Joseph and Jordan!


Maxton

All American Champion: Meet Maxton

Like many toddlers, Maxton had his share of bugs and viruses, including a stay at Avera Children’s Hospital for RSV and pneumonia when he was nearly a year old in January 2014. So later that year in December, they were familiar faces when they returned to Avera Children’s. A common cold had developed into a fever and seizures, and so they made the trip to Sioux Falls.

His parents, Daryl and Jodi, feared the worst – perhaps a tumor or neurological condition. At Avera Children’s, Maxton underwent a series of tests, yet continued to have seizures. When tests showed no firm conclusion as to the cause of the seizures, Maxton was discharged. Minutes after they left the hospital, while in his family’s van, he had a seizure that would not stop. He was rushed back to the hospital by ambulance.

Maxton was placed on a ventilator as anti-seizure medications were administered and tests were run. He then developed pneumonia as a result of aspirating. After five days on the ventilator and a total 17 days in the pediatric ICU, Maxton recovered and was cleared to go home just in time for Christmas. He continued to do well, and welcomed a new little sister.

Today, Maxton is attending school and is "all boy." He loves fast cars, football and working in the shop with his dad.


Nora

Surviving and Thriving: Meet Nora

After a rough first few months, young Nora was diagnosed with failure to thrive which led to a myriad of hospitalizations and procedures. Despite her early struggles, Nora fought through her setbacks.

Today, this once fragile baby is a very happy, healthy 6th grader. She still visits the hospital for regular check-ups but has remained healthy. She loves reading and social studies and stays healthy through a controlled diet.

However, her early diagnosis did leave Nora with balance and visual-spatial perception issues. But this brave young girl still participates in a number of school sports and is on The United Wolfpack Special Olympics team. But as Nora's physical health improved she suddenly began to struggle with severe anxiety. She spent most of her elementary years trying to overcome phobias.

Today, anyone would agree that Nora is finally thriving! Her anxiety is under control and her personality is shining. Her parents describe her as a loving, humorous and thoughtful young woman and are optimistic for her future. Great job Nora!


Ryker

A Bright Future: Meet Ryker

Most parents don’t expect to see their child go from a healthy childhood to having a rare neurological disorder, almost overnight. At the age of 3, Ryker was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which causes serious symptoms such as confusion, loss of balance, blurred vision, weakness and more. Ryker’s bout with ADEM left him with damage to his optic nerve, affecting his vision. To help prevent future relapses and help him gain ground, Ryker receives regular infusions.

Today, nearly 4 years of being diagnosed with ADEM, Ryker is doing well. After several attempts to wean him off the infusions, Ryker still frequents the halls of Avera Children's Hospital. In spite of all of the developmental struggles he has endured over the past couple of years he excels in school. For fun, he enjoys playing with remote control cars and being outdoors. His parents continue to be amazed at his progress because no matter how sick he has gets, he never loses his smile, laughter and true happiness in life.


Kyzleigh

A Special Purpose: Meet Kyzleigh

Kyzleigh’s life was brand new when she experienced a serious threat to her young life. At just five weeks old, she had a slight temperature. Her parents, Bridgette and Sam, noticed that she was having trouble moving. After being seen locally, she was flown to Avera Children’s Hospital where tests revealed she had spinal bacterial meningitis that led to seizures and a blood clot in her brain, causing a stroke. She was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis for sub-specialty care and then returned to Avera for continued monitoring and treatment. A scan revealed a hematoma, or a mass of clotted blood, in the frontal lobe in her brain. Tests showed it had shrunk over time and she began physical therapy.

Today, Kyzleigh is a very busy little girl. She has great love for her older siblings and attends preschool where she learns new things and prepares for a very bright future.

Each of her well checks with her pediatrician have turned out excellent. The family is forever grateful for the care they received while at Avera Children's. The nurses, providers, Child Life Specialists, everyone; they all played an important role for this family during a very difficult time. And for that, they will forever be thankful.


Anthony

Truly Amazing: Meet Anthony

The first years of young Anthony’s life were anything but easy. In November of 2014, Anthony’s parents thought their young son had come down with a classic case of the flu. After three long weeks of battling the sickness, he was admitted to Avera Children’s Hospital and diagnosed as having a lack of nutrition. His levels had reached deadly lows and steps were taken to provide the much-needed nutrients his body so desperately needed.

But to no avail, Anthony continued on the downward spiral and underwent numerous procedures and surgeries. In the end, Anthony had 6-8 inches removed from his small intestine and required a feeding tube. Despite his setbacks and obstacles, Anthony remained playful and happy. His parents, Richard and Amy, were confident in his treatment plan and grateful for the life-saving care he received throughout his journey.

Today, Anthony is a happy, healthy, growing 8-year-old boy. Although he still has his rough days, his parents remain optimistic in his future. Anthony likes to play with his siblings and enjoys spending time with school friends. He also loves to just run around and do things just like any 8-year-old boy-does. 


Piper

A Blessing: Meet Piper

Weighing a mere 14 ounces, baby Piper was not much bigger than a can of soda when she was born. But even though she was small, her spirit was big. Having spent time at Children’s Care Hospital & School, she was admitted to Avera Children’s Hospital for a complete evaluation in hopes to help her overcome the numerous obstacles and medical issues she suffered due to her prematurity.

It would be a long road for Piper, but during this time, she managed to win over the hearts of a Sioux Falls family whose daughter was a volunteer at Children’s Care. It was love at first sight for the Blomker family; they understood and supported Piper in treating her medical conditions. For months, Piper received treatment at Avera Children’s, but eventually she went home -- to her new family. The Blomker’s legally adopted Piper in 2009.

For the next few years, Piper continued traveling down her long road to recovery, often facing frequent visits, treatments and appointments at Avera Children’s. Thanks to the quality care she received, she grew into an active little girl with a bright future and even brighter smile.

Today, Piper is an active 11-year-old who loves music. She continues to have struggles with her sight due to her prematurity but all other issues are in the past. She still talks about the nurses and doctors that took wonderful care of her at Avera. 


Wyatt

Little Miracle: Meet Wyatt

Before Wyatt could even celebrate his first birthday, he had already displayed strength and courage during a month-long battle with an infection. Initially diagnosed with meningitis, Wyatt received a blood transfusion which began a month long stint of hospital stays and discharges. During this time, he experienced swelling of the brain, blood infections and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) but remained a happy-go-lucky little boy and would even flash an occasional smile at the nurses!

Today, despite concerns about loss of hearing and impaired learning, Wyatt has made a full recovery. He has had no major medical problems since his stay at Avera Children’s and is a healthy, rambunctious 5-year-old who loves school. He also enjoys wrestling, hunting with his dad and playing with his dog. He's still the same smiley little boy who loves to cuddle! So sweet Wyatt!


JoJo

Faith Over Fear: Meet JoJo

While appendicitis is pretty serious, most expect a routine surgery will get you back on the road to recovery. But this wasn’t the case for Jolissa “JoJo” Hanson.

JoJo, an active, healthy 9-year-old, developed serious symptoms like non-stop vomiting and a dangerously high fever. She was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. But due to complications, including a large abscess in her abdomen, infection and an obstructed bowel, doctors couldn’t do surgery until nearly three months later.

After a successful procedure, doctors gave her a clean bill of health and she immediately resumed her active lifestyle with only occasional twinges of discomfort.

Today, JoJo continues to do great! While being warned she may be prone to bowel obstructions, she has yet to experience any trouble. She started 6th grade and enjoys numerous school activities ranging from singing to sports; she enjoys just about everything!

JoJo sometimes gets a pain in her surgical area and her mind goes straight to the days of when she was admitted in 2016. But she remains strong-willed and believes in “faith over fear."


Thane

Unstoppable: Meet Thane

While rooting for his favorite football team, Thane thought he was getting a simple sore throat. But his condition quickly went from bad to worse. He was admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Avera Children’s Hospital due to his reaction to an antibiotic. He would later be diagnosed with pneumonia. After touch-and-go treatments, his health slowly began to return to normal. Eventually he was back to his active lifestyle despite being diagnosed with Steven Johnson Syndrome.

Today, Thane is a super sweet seventeen-year-old with a huge heart. His favorite past times are weight lifting, football and baseball.


Josiah

On the Bright Side: Meet Josiah

It was a small accident. Or so it seemed. When five-year-old Josiah was involved in a bicycle crash, he appeared to have come out unscathed. But what was happening on the inside would send him into emergency surgery.

Soon after the accident, severe stomach pains sent Josiah to the doctor where he was quickly transferred to Avera Children’s Hospital. After a battery of tests, doctors discovered that Josiah was suffering from an injured spleen and internal bleeding and was in need of emergency surgery to remove the injured portion right away. After a successful procedure, Josiah was released after nearly a week in the hospital and was on his way to make a full recovery.

Today, young Josiah still recalls his stay at Avera Children's Hospital even though it has been over six years. Thanks to the care he received, he did make a complete recovery from his accident and is a very active eleven-year-old boy who loves to run, ride his bike and split wood. Although he has a love for outdoor activities, he also enjoys quiet moments with a book or practicing origami. Great job Josiah!

Chloe

Making Strides: Meet Chloe

After receiving an emergency ultrasound, mother Randi was immediately flown to Avera Children’s Hospital where little Chloe was taken by emergency cesarean section. A true fighter, Chloe stayed in the NICU for approximately 7 months before coming home. After discharge, the infant, who was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome and a host of other setbacks, frequently returned to the hospital.

Today, seven-year-old Chloe continues to make great strides with the help of many special people in her life. although she sees specialists regularly to make sure she keeps moving in the right direction while leading a happy, healthy life.


Jackson

Keep on Smiling: Meet Jackson

Tiny Jackson was welcomed 8-10 weeks earlier than expected and suffered severe hydrops fetalis – an accumulation of fluid in the fetus. Soon after his birth, a multitude of health issues surrounded Jackson which resulted in lengthy hospital stays and numerous procedures.

Despite the grim diagnosis and 100 days in the NICU, Jackson proved to be a champion and gradually began to show signs of improvement; proving that miracles do happen.

Today, Jackson is a healthy ten-year-old with a love for life like no other. He was weaned off taking 28 medications a day and within two years, he was on the road to a full recovery with the help of physical and occupational therapy. Everyone who knows him smiles when they talk about him because he is always so happy. He loves sports, science and his family. He is constantly on the go and excels at school. His parents are proud of his progress and continue to be grateful for the care they received.


Kalli and Rocco

Love Times Two: Meet Kalli and Rocco

Siblings Kalli and Rocco share more than a last name. Both born prematurely with similar health issues, their early starts in life virtually mirrored one another. It began in 2010 when Heidi and Chad first learned they were expecting. With a family history of premature births, Heidi was aware the risks but remained optimistic. But at 26 weeks, they learned their baby girl was growth restricted and Heidi suffered from preeclampsia. After an emergency c-section, baby Kalli was brought into the world weighing one pound, twelve ounces. She would go on to spend the next 104 days in the Avera NICU as caregivers worked round the clock to strengthen her lungs and ward off infections. Despite the long stay, Kalli returned home with only an oxygen tank and apnea monitor and is now living a full life with no major setbacks.

As Kalli grew into a beautiful little girl, Heidi and Chad discovered they were pregnant again. They were very excited as they desperately longed for another baby and worked closely with their care team due to their high risk status. Despite their efforts, Heidi received a similar diagnosis but had fortunately sustained the pregnancy to 30 weeks before undergoing a similar emergency c-section due to HELLP Syndrome. Thankfully, Rocco was introduced at a plumper three pounds, 1 ounce and was further developed than his sister. After a 6 week stay in the Avera NICU, the little rock star (as they call him), was discharged and thrived in his home setting.

Today, both kids are doing well. Kalli had an MRI this winter to confirm a diagnosis of mild cerebral palsy. She works hard with physical and occupational therapy to help strengthen muscles and improve coordination. This year, she started more aggressive treatment with leg casts and has made great improvements in her walking. Otherwise, she is a typical eight-year-old girl who loves unicorns and anything colorful and sparkly.

Younger sibling Rocco underwent urology surgery last summer to correct his hypospadias. He started kindergarten this year and he loves school. He enjoys playing with legos and superheroes and recently joined wrestling.


Hayden

A New Voice: Meet Hayden

When Brittany first discovered she was expecting, she instantly fell in love with the new life she was fostering. She counted down the months which then turned into weeks and soon, the big day arrived. Brittany was excited to meet her new baby boy, which she named Hayden. But unlike a standard delivery, things quickly took a turn.

Almost immediately, the birthing team and physicians noticed abnormalities in the infant. An MRI indicated a number of issues with young Hayden’s brain. Excess fluid, otherwise known as hydrocephalus, and cerebral palsy were immediately diagnosed along with a very rare brain condition in which the brain doesn’t split. So rare that only one other child in Sioux Falls suffers a similar condition.

Today, Hayden is eleven-years-old and despite his setbacks and medical obstacles, he has been doing well and doing things that make doctors scratch their head. He has surpassed his life expectancy by ten years!

Hayden relies on special equipment to aid in lifting, moving and speech. Because of these aids, he can communicate, which he had never done before. His parents say it's truly amazing to see him interact with others; it makes him so proud but it's his family, friends and medical team that are even more proud of all his accomplishments.


Teghan

Strong and Courageous: Meet Teghan

Could time at the hospital actually be fun? It is for Teghan Ordal, thanks to the Child Life Specialists, Leah and Twila. At the age of 1, Teghan started experiencing recurrent respiratory, sinus and ear infections. Since his body is unable to fight infections on its own, simple infections became more serious, resulting in his multiple surgeries by the age of 5.

At age 5, Teghan was diagnosed with hypogammaglobulinemia. He receives immunoglobulin infusions to make his immune system temporarily stronger. He will continue to need these monthly infusions for the rest of his life.

Today, Teghan is happy and healthy, with just a few illnesses, as expected. He continues to be an active eleven-year-old who enjoys playing baseball and spending time outdoors at the lake. Teghan is still a trooper at the hospital and appreciates how the staff provide activities to make his infusion days better.


Wright

Future is Bright: Meet Wright

When an MRI was recommended for their 9-month-old son, Laura and Rob Brown expected it to be routine. Wright had been having mild seizures which were controlled by anti-seizure medication. So it was a shock when a mass, described as a ganglioglioma tumor, was detected. Wright underwent several hospitalizations and surgeries at Avera Children’s Hospital.

Four years later, Wright was still on his journey to recovery despite the chance of developmental delays. His one setback was his vision, which was compromised from the tumor pushing on his optic nerve. Thankfully, Wright overcomes this obstacle with corrective lenses.

Today, Wright has been doing amazing since his original surgery. He had to have a follow-up surgery in August of 2015 to remove another “spot” that was detected. After an initial rejection of silk sutures, which were immediately removed, he went on to make a full recovery. Despite the chance of developmental delays, Wright has been lucky to lead a happy and healthy life. Wright is currently in the 1st grade and excels at math and reading. He also loves his Hot Wheels, playing soccer and cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs.

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