By Hailey Renaldo – The Lasalle Post Staff
A fundraiser has been set up to help a local couple raise money to relieve their medical, transportation and lodging costs that have come with pregnancy complications.
Kristy Pender and her fiancee Dallin Grantmyre were overjoyed when they found out she was pregnant with their rainbow babies – twin girls, named Sophia and Ella.
Unfortunately shortly after, Pender began having complications that forced her to take a leave from work to go on bed rest when she was just five weeks pregnant.
When the time came for the twins anatomy ultrasound, where the babies were measured, and their organ function was checked, Pender was frustrated to be told on two separate occasions that she had to come back for another appointment because her babies were too active to get accurate pictures of both of their hearts.
Eventually, she was referred to specialists in London for extensive testing where the babies were checked once again, and Pender was given upsetting news.
The girls were officially diagnosed with a cardiac disease called Tetralogy of Fallot, which is a rare condition where defects affect the structure of the heart. Ella also has Pulmonary Atresia where
the valve that controls blood flow to her lungs hasn’t formed at all.
“Sophia’s case is less emergent and she is expected to be stable enough to have her surgery within three to six months after birth,” said Pender. “Ella’s situation is much more severe because she not only has the heart condition, but she is also missing a valve that allows oxygen and blood flow from her heart to her lungs.”
Ella will have to undergo surgery immediately after she is born. Pender said Ella will need a shunt immediately after birth – as long as she weighs over 3 pounds – and then she can have an additional surgery where they will construct a valve to help her heart transport blood and oxygen to her lungs. Ella will need at least three surgeries before she is able to leave the hospital.
Both girls will also need additional surgeries to help add more material to their missing valve after every growth spurt as they age because the valve being replaced doesn’t grow with their hearts.
“It was heartbreaking to hear,” said Pender. “Thankfully they did a bunch of ultrasounds and tests while we were there so we know this is the only serious condition my girls have. Everything else is okay, I feel them kicking every day. They’re healthy and strong as long as they’re in there. I just have to keep them going until we’re at least 34 weeks so we can try to get them a little bit stronger.”
According to rarediseases.org, about one per cent of newborns have congenital heart defects, 10 per cent of these infants are diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot and the odds of being diagnosed are about one in 3,000 births.
The severity of Ella’s condition will keep Pender’s family in Toronto for her procedures and check-ups for approximately a month.
“We don’t know exactly how long this process will be, how many appointments and surgeries and checkups they’ll need after they’re born and have their procedures done … but all of this definitely doesn’t end when we leave Toronto,” said Pender. “There’s a seven to 10 day waiting period once I’m in the hospital giving birth for the Ronald McDonald House. When I am discharged, I may need to pay for our stays at a hotel until they approve everything.”
Luckily, during her isolation process to ensure she doesn’t have Covid, Pender will still be allowed to see her daughters in the hospital.
Since Pender has been off work in October and Grantmyre recently started a new job, funds have been difficult to manage for all the hotel stays, food and gas during her early morning appointments in London and Toronto. To help with the costs, a GoFundMe was started with an $8,000 goal.
“We are so grateful to the people who have donated to our cause already,” said Pender. “We will continue to update everyone through the GoFundMe page. Even if people can’t donate, just to spread awareness by asking people to share the page is such a huge help.”
To donate to the Grantmyre family or for updates on their journey, visit their GoFundMe page.