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Foundation helps children with extended hospital stays

The Charli Anna Foundation has helped one family so far and the foundation is hoping to help more.

The foundation was started in October by Jason and Heather Merseal of Potosi in memory of their daughter, Charli Anna, who died July 28. She had spent all five months of her life in the hospital.

In December, the foundation helped their first family, Patrick and Holly Grider of Loami, Ill. Their baby, Hadley, died Dec. 23. Like Charli Anna, Hadley was born with heart problems.

Hadley was born on April 7 with a congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and had a heart transplant.

The Charli Anna Foundation was able to help the family with some expenses at the hospital, payment of a couple of bills at home and a donation toward funeral expenses.

The foundation raises money through fundraisers. The next will be a bowling/euchre tournament on Jan. 24 at Heritage Lanes in Potosi.

There will be a four-person mixed scratch bowling tournament for $80 a team at 9 a.m. The euchre card tournament will be at 1 p.m. Bring your own partner. The cost is $20 a team.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., there will be a buffet at $10 per adult and $5 per child. A silent auction will also be held. The evening event will be no-tap bowling at 7 p.m. Cost is $20.

To enter, call Heritage Lanes at 573-436-8003. For more information, call 573-438-8732 or 573-631-3594 or visit http://www.charliannafoundation.org/. To make a donation, send to CAF, PO Box 605, Potosi, MO 63664.

About Charli Anna

Charli Anna was born at a hospital in St. Louis on Feb. 13. Almost immediately, doctors rushed her out of the room and told the parents something was wrong — the baby either had an infection or a heart defect.

An hour later, they were told Charli Anna had a heart defect called Transposition of the Great Arteries and surgery was needed as soon as possible. She was flown to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Because there were concerns about her lungs, doctors waited a few days to have the surgery.

During surgery, doctors realized a hole in her heart was much bigger than they anticipated and it needed a special device.

Days and many complications later, she went into cardiac arrest. Then doctors began having trouble controlling the fluid around her lungs and surgeries didn’t help.

After the second surgery to help with the fluid drainage, she went back on a ventilator. By this time, bills were mounting and the trips back and forth from Potosi were wearing them out. Friends and family members hosted fundraisers which raised enough to replace Heather’s lost income. Church members put a new roof on their house.

The baby soon began developing infections and died July 28.

Her parents started the non-profit organization to help other parents of children who have long-term hospital stays, especially heart patients.

Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at tressel@dailyjournalonline.com.

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