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Contributions Help Save Child's Life



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For the seventh year in a row, the lobby at Sanford Children’s Hospital has been completely transformed into a live remote location for Backyard Broadcasting’s 36 Hour Radiothon for Kids.

It’s an event that has raised thousands of dollars for the Children’s Miracle Network, benefiting children all over the region. But for one Tea family, this is an event that means so much more.      

Looking into the eyes of 11 month-old Maci, you can see she is full of life. But a year ago today, all that life almost slipped away when her mother’s water broke unexpectedly just 23 weeks into her pregnancy.

Janelle and her husband, Grant, went straight to their doctor, nervous that things were going terribly wrong.  

“They told me that likely, within 48 hours, I would go into labor. As early as I was, she wasn’t considered viable, so if I would have gone into labor; she wouldn’t have made it,” says Janelle Van Riesen.

Thankfully, doctors were able to delay labor just long enough that Maci could be born safely. But born at only 1 pound and 6 ounces, her battle was far from over.

“We could take his wedding ring and put it all the way up her arm, up to her shoulder,” says Janelle.

Four days later, Janelle was discharged, but Maci had to stay. For months, Maci relied on a 40-thousand dollar giraffe omni-bed to stimulate the womb until she was strong enough to sleep in a crib.

“Having to go home without her was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do because all I wanted to do was take my baby home,” says Janelle.

A few months later, Maci was diagnosed with an extremely rare muscle and tissue disorder, making it difficult for her to swallow her food on her own.

Maci had to undergo three Botox injections to relax the esophageal muscles. It was a procedure that had never been done at Sanford, but two days later; she was off oxygen and bottling.

After 126 days in the hospital, little Maci went home to be with mom and dad, all thanks to the contributions made by the Children's Miracle Network.

“Just the importance that we need to stress is the need for donations to keep going in. All this stuff costs a lot of money. It helps a lot of families every single day,” says Grant.

Wednesday morning, one year after all of this began, the Van Riesens join many other families at this year's radiothon to tell their story, and how they can save a life just like Maci’s.

Today, Maci is doing much better, but still has to go back for check-ups periodically.

If you’d like to follow Maci’s recovery progress, you can follow her Caring Bridge account at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/babyvanriesen/createorsignin.
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