Fundraising underway for Dawson toddler's heart surgery

Londyn Dennard, a 16-month-old who lives in Dawson, has congenital heart defects requiring a surgery best performed in San Francisco. The surgery is not covered by her family’s insurance, so funds are being raised for the surgery as well as travel expenses.

DAWSON — Londyn Dennard is 16 months old and has already been through a lot. As she prepares for the next chapter of her battle, her family is asking for help.

Londyn, who lives in Dawson, was born with heart defects. As a newborn, she was at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, where she was diagnosed with membrane pulmonary artesia with ventricular septal defect, hypoplastic branch pulmonary arteries, aorta pulmonary collateral arteries and patent ductus arteriosus.

She also has DiGeorge syndrome, also known as 22q11.2 deletion syndrome. It is caused by the deletion of a small segment of chromosome 22, which has been found to be somewhat to blame for her heart problems.

Londyn has already had one heart surgery and four procedures in Atlanta. During her last procedure, the doctors noticed the surgery made her cardiac issue better at the expense of her lungs — which had gotten worse.

The pulmonary arteries are so small they could not be ballooned to help get blood flow going to facilitate growth. She now needs another major surgery to get her arteries to grow, which is best performed at Stanford Children’s Hospital in San Francisco.

Apart from the surgery itself, the family needs to be in the San Francisco area for a month. The insurance the Dennards have will not pay for it, which is where the fundraising comes in. The family is seeking donations and sponsors to offset the costs.

Tamea Dennard, Londyn’s mother, said a hole was found in her daughter’s heart during a prenatal ultrasound.

“Her oxygen levels were at 54 to 56 when she was born, and they are supposed to be at 100,” she said.

Her first procedure took place when she was 3 months old, and the one surgery she has had previously was an open-heart surgery. The family was on track to getting Londyn the surgery in San Francisco when they found out it would not be covered because it would require going out of Georgia.

Londyn turned 1 on Feb. 7 and has experienced some delay in milestone development.

“She just started crawling three months ago, and she is not walking,” Dennard said. “There is a program that comes in every week; it has been helpful. She couldn’t even roll over.”

The expectation is that the surgery in California would help both her heart and lungs at the same time. If it cannot be done by the end of the year, she potentially faces another surgery in Atlanta to buy more time until she can go westward.

“We want to do just the one surgery,” Dennard said.

A “Pray a Miracle for Londyn” Facebook page has been set up, detailing some of the things being done to get the money the family needs. A pageant is set in Dawson for Saturday, and items and services have been donated for drawings to raise funds.

A fish fry and bike-a-thon are also on the horizon. It has been surprising to Dennard how much people have been willing to help.

“We are doing a lot of things at once to raise money,” she said. “Basically we have everything posted on that page.

“People have been very, very responsive. People are interested in doing our events. I didn’t think it would pick up the way it has, but it is. We are doing it because of her.”

The surgery was scheduled for July, and it was canceled after the insurance hurdle came up. The family is looking to prepare for the cost of the surgery as well as three to five weeks of expenses, the round trip and luggage fees.

“There is a Ronald McDonald House there, but it is always booked,” Dennard said.

The family has two other children in school, so the ambition is to get the surgery behind them before the school year starts back.

Those wanting to mail in their donations can send them to P.O. Box 43, Sasser, Ga. 39885. There is also a Go Fund Me page, and a Cash App page set up in Dennard’s name.

Staff Writer

I'm a 2007 graduate of Georgia Southern University, and I've been a reporter for The Albany Herald since 2008. I cover news related to health care, Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany, SOWEGA Council on Aging and other areas as assigned.

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