Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published on LiveWellNebraska.com
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By Julie Anderson
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
An Oakland, Neb., couple were so pleased with the care their now 11-month-old son, born with a heart defect, received at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center that they’re pitching in to raise money for the hospital.
Kelli and Dillon Johnson will share their experiences with their infant son, Landon, during a radiothon that KX 96.9 in Lincoln has scheduled around Valentine’s Day, this Thursday and Friday. February also is Heart Health Month.
Landon’s grandmother Julie Johnson, a third-generation grocer who owns Nelson’s Food Pride in Oakland, will match donations up to $1,000, as she did last year during a similar event at an Omaha radio station.
The grocery store will hold a silent auction and collect freewill offerings for burgers, hot dogs and root beer floats over the two days.
“I never thought we would be doing anything like this,” Kelli Johnson said. “But it’s just part of the journey. It’s not a journey you’d ask to be part of, but it’s all part of God’s plan, and we’re lucky to be a part of it.”
Julie Johnson said she’s just grateful that such care is available only 60 miles south of Oakland. Another family in the town of 1,390 has a child just 6 weeks younger than Landon who also has a heart condition and has been treated at the hospital.
“It doesn’t matter what it costs,” she said. “You do what you can for your babies.”
Funds will go to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, but all proceeds will stay local. Some will support Children’s, which is part of the network.
Some also will go to Midwest Heart Connection, which supports heart patients and their families. The radio event runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. Donations sent to Nelson’s Food Pride also will go to the network.
The Johnsons’ journey through the world of heart defects and hospitals began with Kelli Johnson’s 20-week ultrasound.
Her doctor thought the baby looked small and sent her to a specialist.
In that exam, it appeared the baby’s pulmonary artery — which carries oxygen-depleted blood from the heart to the lungs — wasn’t attached to the heart.
He was born four weeks early — March 1 — and wasn’t breathing. Doctors inserted a tube so that he could breathe.
It turned out the artery was attached but required repair. Doctors performed surgery four days later. The family essentially lived at the hospital for six weeks, and Landon now returns frequently for appointments.
The family also found out that Landon has a genetic condition that can include heart, hearing and vision problems. Landon has worn hearing aids since he was 3 months old. He’ll probably need another heart surgery before age 5. He will have delays in development, but the family, which includes sister Ava, 2, expects he’ll catch up, with hard work.
“He’ll do everything that every other child does, but he’ll have to learn in different ways,” Kelli Johnson said.
As for the hospital and its staff, the family just wants to do what it can to help. “We would just like to return a part of what they have done for us,” she said.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1223, firstname.lastname@example.org
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