At only 7 and a half months old, Hailey Helstrom has had a busy life and a stressful one for her parents, Scott and Jennifer Helstrom of Isanti. To begin with, there was her birth back on March 25. She was born on the side of County Road 5 at 1 a.m. in the family's minivan. They were pulled over for speeding, since they were in a big hurry to get to the hospital. The officers who stopped them wound up helping with the delivery.
And that, they figured, would be the most traumatic thing about her young life. “Yeah, that was exactly the thought,” says dad Scott. “She was born in the back of the van, she’s going to have a really neat story to tell people some day.”
But, within weeks, they got devastating news about her heart. It was deformed. The news was “a bomb,” Jennifer Helstrom told FOX 9.
In July, she got a donor valve and a pacemaker, but soon the valve collapsed and doctors told the Helstroms that Hailey was in end stage heart failure and would need a full transplant. Two weeks after going on the transplant list, they got the call that a donor heart had become available.
While waiting outside the operating room, Jennifer saw the transplant cooler get rushed past her.
“I wasn’t expecting the heart that was about to enter my daughter’s body to come past me in the lobby,” she told us. “That was a little like…I needed to get another cup of coffee.”
Hailey got that transplant in September at the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children Hospital and entered a rare group. It’s not common for kids under the age of one to get heart transplants. Records show it’s happened only 15 times in the past 22 years.
Her prognosis is good, but the family could use some help. Insurance covers much of the costs, but all the co-pays and incidentals add up. For that reason, there’s a fundraiser this weekend.
It’s Sunday, November 14th from 4 to 7pm at the American Legion in Apple Valley.
If you can’t make it, checks can be mailed to Thrivent Financial Bank, Attn: Hailey’s Heart Benefit. The address is 5349 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55419.