I HEART Cruz Chavez
Uniting to raise money for 2 yr old Cruz Chavez to get a heart transplant.
“A heart is not measured by how much you love but how much you are loved by others.” ― Wizard of Oz
The Bloedorn/Fetherkile families are uniting to raise money for 2-year-old Cruzie to get a new heart. This is a short story about a child whose heart is so big that he needs a new heart, to replace his massive heart, that has given so much joy and laughter that it wore out way too early. This is a story about a little boy fighting for his life at this very moment, when every second counts, and seconds are already borrowed time.
I would like to introduce you to my nephew, Cruz Chavez. Cruz is the 2-year-son of my little sister, Cortney Fetherkile. Until recently Cortney worked part time as a CNA, went to nursing school, and took care of little Cruz as a single mother. They live together in Omaha, Nebraska.
Cruz is currently on a Berlin heart at St. Louis Children’s Hospital awaiting a heart transplant. A Berlin Heart is a mechanical ventricular assist device that is temporarily used to replace the function of a failing heart while a patient waits for a transplant. Cruz has a 0% chance of survival without a heart transplant.
Cruz is a complete medical mystery and to date there is no diagnosis of why his heart has failed. If he receives a new heart, the doctors will study his current heart to help assist medical research on why some children have no apparent cause for heart failure. According to the doctors, 27% of children at his stage die due to possible complications of the Berlin heart, such as blood clots or neurological damage, or just waiting for a heart to come available.
Based on Cruz’s age, weight, and blood type, he is in the highest demand of hearts but lowest supply. The average wait for a new heart in his category is 150+ days, 150+ long and agonizing days where it is a dance to sustain his life long enough for hope to arrive. Although his problems started on March 25th, we are only on day three, 3 days since he was placed on a Berlin heart and day 3 on the transplant list. His journey has only just begun.
Here is Cruz’s story:
On the evening of March 25th, 2013, Cruzie was playing at his grandparents’ home when they noticed him double over with extremely labored breathing. Minutes later his lips turned blue, and he began sweating profusely. Cruz was rushed to the E.R at Children’s Hospital of Omaha where he was promptly admitted into the ICU. Findings: His heart was severely enlarged, and the weight of his massive heart had collapsed his left lung. Cruz began fighting fiercely for his life that very night. It took over 3 hours to stabilize him. In order to stabilize him, he was placed on a vent, sedated, and paralyzed to cause the least amount of stress to his failing heart. This is how he stayed for 2 agonizing weeks.
The days and nights that followed were full of waves of emotion as he clung to life, basically in a medially induced coma, while multitudes of specialists came to see him and conduct an overwhelming number of tests on his frail little body. Cruz underwent heart biopsy, muscle biopsy, deep genetic screening, metabolic screening, chest X rays, skeletal X-rays, MRI of his brain, neurological testing, daily echo-cardiograms, etc. Every organ was examined … and thankfully only his heart seemed to be affected.
During these weeks of testing, Cruz began fading away. Many times we were not sure if he would make it long enough to get through all of the testing to even learn whether he was a candidate to be put on the transplant list. With no clear diagnosis, or reason for his heart failure, it became a month-long roller coaster for Cruz to finally find his way into becoming a candidate for a new heart. Children’s Hospital in Omaha could not do a pediatric heart transplant, so the next step was to get the St. Louis Children’s Hospital to accept Cruz as a cardiac patient.
On April 15th, Cruz was airlifted from Omaha Children’s Hospital to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. On the morning he was scheduled to fly, his body was retaining so much fluid from his heart failure that the cardiologist had to take my sister’s place on the helicopter. Cruz was losing his battle, and the situation was quickly taking a turn for the worst.
Immediately upon Cruz’s arrival at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, he was taken into surgery to be placed on ECMO (heart and lung bypass machine). St. Louis doctors advised my sister that, while on ECMO, Cruz would be reevaluated for candidacy for transplant. Devastated that more time was required, time that Cruz did not seem to have, spent trying to find something wrong that could potentially keep him off the transplant list, we awaited more testing.
Finally on Thursday April 19th, Cruz was approved to be placed on the transplant list and taken into surgery to be placed on the Berlin heart. Now we await a possible match for a heart, a bittersweet reality because we know the hard truth that for Cruz to live another child must die.
Due to the severity of Cruz’s condition, My Sister was immediately required to quit school and work for a minimum of one-year post transplant. I have created this fundraiser not only for what is financially needed to keep my sister in St. Louis waiting on a heart for Cruz, but also to help ease the lifelong financial hardship they are faced with.
A heart transplant is an option for children with serious heart conditions, but it is not a cure. A new heart gives Cruz a chance to grow up, but it is a lifelong battle. If Cruz is lucky and receives a new heart, he will have to take immunosuppressive (anti-rejection) medication every day for the rest of his life at an approximate annual cost of $20,000. He will also need to be followed up closely at a hospital, including regular blood tests, outpatient clinics, biopsies, and annual reviews. The doctors have also advised my family that often a child receiving a heart at such a young age will need to have another transplant in the teen years.
Any contribution would be greatly appreciated. We have no idea right now what the financial impact may be for what he will need short-term or for the rest of his life, such as anti-rejection medications or daily care. We are just taking things one day at a time.
Our family would like to note that if Cruz does not survive long enough to receive a new heart, then all monies donated, once funeral costs have been paid, will be donated to another child in need of a heart transplant. Cruz’s mother has decided that he shall be an organ donor, so that if he dies, many other children shall live.
Thank you for your emotional and financial support of Cruz Chavez! Angels do walk among us on earth, and we are thankful for each and every one of you!
I would like to thank Doron Kless and Nisim Cohen of New York City for starting off the fundraiser with their gift of $1,000 by personal check. Personal checks to Cruz Chavez can also be sent to the following address:
I HEART Cruz Chavez
Care of Carrie Bloedorn
100 Potomac Dr. Dallas, GA 30132