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Surgery saves newborn's life. Benefit for Borman family set Feb. 23

Kyle, Brittany, Mason and Braylen are getting used to a new normal after Mason underwent a successful surgery to close holes in his heart.1 / 2
Pictured are Braylen, Brittany, Mason and Kyle Borman. When he was first born, Mason had several heart defects, but since then they have been successfully repaired by surgery.2 / 2

It was a joyous occasion when Kyle and Brittany Borman, along with son Braylen, of Pine River, welcomed the newest member of the family, Mason, on Oct. 11, 2018. But amidst the excitement and cheer, there were signs that something was off right away.

"When he was born he had labored breathing," Kyle said. "You could see his ribs and his stomach almost looked bloated."

Even so, the problem wasn't identified immediately. Additional symptoms warranted a checkup.

"At a certain point his weight kind of plateaued," Kyle said. "There were a couple weeks where he didn't gain any weight. We went and got a checkup and he hadn't gained any weight since the last one. Four days later he lost 4 ounces. We decided to take him in to have him looked at a little closer to see what was going on. Something wasn't right. He should have been thriving and growing."

"At first they took a chest X-ray and saw some fluid so we first thought he had pneumonia," Brittany said. "We were going to be hospitalized at Lakewood (Health System in Staples). That's when they heard the murmur, so we got transferred to Children's (in the Twin Cities)."

Mason's heart had several dangerous problems. There was a 10-millimeter hole between his left and right ventricles, another hole between his left and right atria and a cleft (leaky) heart valve. Their doctors explained that Mason was losing weight because the defects caused him labored breathing that made eating difficult. They compared it to an adult running full speed on a treadmill and eating a cheeseburger at the same time.

At first, doctors wanted to give Mason a feeding tube to help him gain weight, but with his small size and already labored heart, they decided the surgery for a feeding tube might set him back unnecessarily, and it might not work to help him gain weight anyway.

The Bormans quickly changed gears when they were told the doctors wanted to repair Mason's heart right away. Surgeons effectively fixed the ventricles and atria on Jan. 8. They wanted to repair the leaky valve, but they erred on the side of caution and only put one stitch into it to help it work more effectively.

"The tissue the valve is made of is the consistency of tissue paper," Kyle said. "They tried to explain it to us that they were going to try to sew it, but if you can imagine sewing tissue paper together, it's tricky. They put one stitch in it. There is still a small leak in it but it's gotten better each time it's been looked at."

The best case scenario is that Mason's valve repairs itself the rest of the way now, but there is a possibility that he may undergo surgery again years from now when the valve is sturdier. The remaining defect, however, is one he can live with.

"It's not a life-threatening thing," Kyle said. "He'll show he's easily fatigued in gym class and might not keep up."

Before the surgery, Mason was irritable, uncomfortable and virtually inconsolable. After 25 days in the hospital, the family returned with a different baby.

"Before, we couldn't put him down," Brittany said. "We walked continuously with him for five hours or more a day. Now if you put him down you can see he's happy. We almost left with a whole new baby. We're finally just getting to know him."

Kyle said Mason is almost always smiling now, and he has a healthy appetite.

"Before surgery a good day for him was 17 ounces," Kyle said. "Now he's averaging 26-28 ounces per day. He gained almost a pound since surgery as of last Thursday (Jan. 17)."

Mason is up to 10 pounds now. Kyle and Brittany are overjoyed to put the tension of the life-threatening condition behind them. Unfortunately, that just gives them plenty of time to focus on bills, which have been piling up since Mason's birth when Kyle cut his work hours back, and December, when he stopped working altogether.

"Being down there definitely put us behind financially," Kyle said. "We are a couple months behind on everything, but the people we owe our bills to are pretty understanding about it."

In addition, the couple hasn't yet received medical bills for whatever remained after insurance.

"We're kind of chomping at the bit to figure out what's covered and what's not," Kyle said. "I'm guessing it'll be a pretty steep number."

Kyle's mother didn't wait long to take the initiative to help her son and grandchild with a benefit dinner. The ham dinner is $10 for adults and $5 for children up to 10 years of age. It includes three side dishes, vegetables, rolls, dessert and a beverage. Donations from local businesses and friends are going toward a raffle and silent auction. The family has already seen an outpouring of support in the form of donations, GoFundMe contributions and support.

"It's amazing how strong the community is and how willing a lot of people are to help," Kyle said. "It's kind of overwhelming not having to ask for anything. It's kind of a situation someone hopes they are never in. There's going to be a lot of paying it forward to do when it's all said and done. It's been a lifesaver for sure."

Borman family benefit

What: Ham dinner, raffle and silent auction

When: 4:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23

Where: Pine River American Legion

Cost: $10 for adults; $5 for children to age 10