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Fundraiser set for infant with heart defect


December 6, 2017

Courtesy photo

Sonni Ochoa holds her son Jaspen in Seattle.

Havre Daily News staff

Friends of a woman whose baby had to undergo heart surgery within days of his birth - and is likely to require intensive care in the near term and more transplants throughout his life - are holding a fundraiser Thursday to help her with the cost.

Sonni Ochoa's son Jaspen was born Nov. 13 and within a day was flown to Great Falls due to breathing difficulties and then was flown to Seattle Children's Hospital when doctors found he had a congenital heart defect, said Ashlee Keeling, a co-worker and friend of Sonni Ochoa.

Within days of his birth, Jaspen had open-heart surgery and now is under medical watch until he is 4 months to 6 months old or grows to 12 pounds in weight, when he will need another surgery, she said.

Jaspen has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Keeling said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website says the syndrome occurs when the left side of the heart does not form correctly during pregnancy, affecting blood flow through the heart.

Keeling said dealing with the defect will be lifelong, with Jaspen needing a heart transplant by the time he is 20, and likely another transplant every 20 years.

For now, he will be undergoing multiple surgeries to try to normalize the blood flow until he receives the transplant, she said.

Keeling said the doctor in charge of Jaspen's care said the infant is responding to the surgery and treatment better than most little babies.

"He said (Jaspen) is making his job easy," she said.

She said Ochoa was under terrible stress in the first few days, but with Jaspen's response to the treatment she is doing better in Seattle now.

"It seems like she is doing pretty good," Keeling said.

Keeling and her and Ochoa's fellow Walmart co-worker Rose Turner have organized a fundraiser Thursday at Pizza Hut to help Ochoa, a single parent, pay for the expenses.

When anyone tells the cashier at Pizza Hut Thursday when they make a purchase they are donating to Jaspen, 20 percent of the purchase price will go to the fundraiser.

Keeling said they also set up a medical account for Jaspen at Bear Paw Credit Union in which people can contribute.


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