ALTON — It was a routine ultrasound in November, when Kennedy Donahue received devastating news about her unborn son.
“The doctors said there was something wrong with his heart,” she said. “It was on the right side and they said it looked like there was a hole.”
Now, friends and family have come together and organized a benefit to raise money for medical expenses. A bowling tournament will be held Jan. 31 at Bowl Haven Lanes in Alton.
“It has been amazing,” Kennedy said. “Not only have friends and family donated, but random people on the Internet have donated and written to me; people who were in similar situations.”
When the news first hit, however, it was life-changing. The Donahues were sent to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center in St. Louis for more tests. It was then determined that baby Sean had a congenital heart defect called double outlet right ventricle (DORV); his pulmonary artery (which carries oxygen-poor blood to the lungs) and the aorta (which carries oxygen-rich blood to the body) connect to his right ventricle. This makes it difficult for the baby to receive enough oxygen, in addition to other problems.
Baby Sean also has a ventricular septal defect, which means he has a hole between the two ventricles of his heart.
“I was numb,” Kennedy said.
Rather than succumbing to the news, she researched the condition and is preparing for the future.
“We have a long, bumpy road ahead of us, but we are very optimistic,” she said. “We are in amazing hands at Cardinal Glennon and couldn’t ask for better care.”
Following baby Sean’s birth, he will have to undergo open heart surgery within his first week. He is facing at least a month in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where he will need to be fed through a feeding tube.
At 3 months old, he will require a catheter procedure to see how his heart is functioning, and doctors will set the date for a second heart surgery (a Glenn procedure) somewhere between 4 and 6 months of age, followed by another month in the NICU. Between the ages of 2 and 3, he will need a third operation, called a Fontan procedure.
Baby Sean’s medical care will be costly, so friends organized the benefit to help the family pay for medical expenses and other bills during this tough financial time.
There will be a doubles 9-pin tournament from 2 until 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, at Bowl Haven Lanes in Alton. The cost is $15 per person and includes prizes for the top three teams. There will also be food and drink specials, a basket raffle, a strike pot and music by Toni “Rock Your Socks Off” Daniel.
The Donahue family (parents Sean and Kennedy and Eleanor and Joseph Cloninger) have also set up a GoFundMe page at http://www.gofundme.com/hbpsz8. It has been up for more than a month and already the donations have been coming in.
Baby Sean’s parents are moving forward and say the bowling tournament will help them keep their momentum.
For more information on the bowling tournament, contact Kennedy Donahue at (618) 210-7367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To keep up with baby Sean’s progress, or to make a donation online, visit the family’s GoFundMe page at http://www.gofundme.com/hbpsz8.