Elizabeth Doney Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
An ancient fraternity has heard the plight of a young woman needing her second open heart surgery who is unable to find a medical insurance company that will cover her surgery needs. Brenda Nelson was born three weeks early weighing just over five pounds with a hole in her heart and a narrowed aorta. Doctors soon discovered that her heart and liver were enlarged and that she needed closed heart surgery in Salt Lake City. She was quickly baptized before her surgery which lasted eight hours and kept her on a respirator for the first three-and-a-half months, causing slight damage to her vocal chords and hearing. Nelson, when 2 months old, had experimental surgery that took a vein in her left arm and transferred it to her heart. At 11 months, she had an open heart surgery and when she was eight an angioplasty attempted to balloon her narrowed aerota, but resulted in complications. Today, Nelson, 24 years old, has survived many complications from the surgery to graduate from both high school and college. She is training to become a licensed appraiser at Anderson Appraising with a passion for bowling. “I’ve done well for the last 16 years, until recently when I became a lot more tired and my blood pressure rose,” Nelson said. “I have always been limited as far as strenuous activity, but never really felt limited because I did other things that I wanted to.” Nelson is scheduled to undergo a scope on Monday that will determine if the The aneurysm is causing strain on her esophagus because she is having difficulties eating. After this appointment she will return to the children’s hospital in Salt Lake City to undergo her second open heart surgery. While she is not without some fear and trepidation of the surgery, her mother reminds her to remain hopeful and that she has already come this far with so much strength even at five pounds. Their church, the United Methodist has a prayer chain under way for Nelson. The Havre Masonic Lodge No. 55 has also taken Nelson under their wing and has contributed $1,000 from the local lodge, combined with state organization funds to make the largest possible donation to Nelson. “Our brother Master Mason James Margaris heard of this young woman’s need and asked for help on her behalf,” Mike Barts, Worshipful Master said of the contribution. “We responded swiftly and simply want her to feel better as fast as possible.” The fraternity has 263 Masons and has served the Havre community for over 100 years with a mission to assist neighbors in times of dire need. They are currently involved with youth in a Bikes for Books program at several local schools including Havre, Box Elder and Rudyard. The Mason’s also distribute four higher education scholarships every year. The lodge is one of 112 lodges in Montana. “This is a program that we are very proud and grateful to be able to contribute into,” Barts said of the neighborly gift. “The Mason program is designed to assist those in dire need.” “She’s a tough fighter and we are hoping for the best,” said her parents, Janet and Wade Nelson.