Getting through their first child's heart transplant was frightening, but Stacy and Jason Bingham thought the worst was over. They were lucky enough to find a match for 12-year-old Sierra and she was on the mend. Then the unimaginable happened. They learned all five of their children may need heart transplants.
Each Bingham kid has been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, or DCM, a rare genetic abnormality that prevents their heart from pumping blood properly. Having one gravely ill child is horrifying enough, but the fear of maybe losing all five seems almost too much to bear.
For now, just 8-year-old Lindsy is on the transplant list, which includes about 3,000 children and adults. Megan, 10, Hunter, 5, and Gage, 3, are not as ill yet, thank goodness. But little Gage has already been fitted with a pacemaker.
Doctors say the smallest hearts are the hardest to find. If a child's heart gives out before a donor comes through, however, there are devices they can be put on to keep them alive until surgery.
But getting a heart is only half the battle. After the surgery, there is a long recovery period and there is always the risk the body will reject the new organ. And while the survival rates are better than they were a decade ago, the numbers are still scary: 70 percent of children with heart transplants are alive 10 years later, but just 50 percent are alive 50 years later.
It sounds almost too much to bear. As a parent myself, I can't even imagine the amount of fear the Binghams endure on a daily basis. How can they cope with this type of medical tragedy? Can you imagine fearing that you will lose all five of your children to the same illness. Five! It's absolutely heartbreaking.
Doesn't this story just break your heart?
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