BY NIKKI MEYER
The heart. A muscle we rarely think about. And yet, it begins working long before we are ever born, and it continues working—every second of every day—until we take our final breath. It works without our permission, without our conscious direction, and without much thought at all on our part.
That is, unless your heart doesn't function the way it should. Then, you think about it a lot.
Vlad and Logan Aksenov think about a heart beating every single day. Usually many times a day. Their two-year old daughter, Alaina, is among those whose heart didn't quite form right. Hers doesn't pump blood as efficiently as it should. That means that oxygen isn't being delivered in her body as well as it should be. Fluid can back up in the lungs and other tissues.
Alaina has already had numerous open-heart surgeries. Just this summer, her cardiologists in Omaha, Nebraska performed a surgery to try and help increase the output abilities of her heart. Hearts that size are small. Surgeries of that sort are tricky. Complications ensued, and Alaina spent nearly a month in the hospital.
Around the time Alaina was finally able to return home to Welcome, her parents welcomed her baby brother, Evan, to the family.
Despite her previous complications, Alaina was doing well upon returning home. However, at the beginning of October, she started getting groggy and refusing to eat. She just wasn't herself. As any parent of a child with health issues knows, brushing off out-of-the-ordinary behavior as a minor incident is almost impossible. Vlad and Logan took her to a cardiologist is Sioux Falls.
Heart failure. The words that buzzed around Vlad and Logan's head for days. At only two-years-old, their baby girl was diagnosed with heart failure.
Alaina was put on several medications and kept in Sioux Falls for several days to stabilize before returning home. The Askenov's were told that the doctors would discuss her case at an upcoming cardiology conference on Monday, October 15 in order to determine the next steps.
Just a few days before the conference was to take place. Alaina took a turn for the worse. She was airlifted to Omaha where a 2x3cm blood clot was discovered in her heart. Her small, toddler heart that is not strong enough to withstand the surgery to remove the clot. She likely would not survive coming off by necessary bypass machine. Alaina was instead put in a heparin drip to help clear the clot while her cardiologists wait for her condition to improve in order to determine what comes next.
While Vlad and Logan are fortunate enough to have full-time jobs—Logan is a nurse manager with Prairie River Home Care and Vlad a truck driver for British Petroleum—the costs for traveling, lodging, time off for medical appointments and hospital stays, and medical bills are adding up at an alarming rate.
A benefit for the family has been organized and will take place on Sunday, December 9 at the Eagles Club in Fairmont from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. The menu includes a hog roast and a silent auction will be held. Contact Shae Pierson at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to make a donation.
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