Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hearts for Haley

Haley McLean is six years old. She loves school, dancing, vibrant colors and playing with My Little Ponies and tiny rubber Squinkies toys.
In that regard, Haley is like so many other little girls her age.

But Haley is different. The heart that beats inside her little body is damaged.

It has been - since she was born - and has required three heart surgeries in her young life.

She will soon have a fourth.

Early Tuesday morning, after a night spent in Portland's Ronald McDonald House with her parents Andy and Susan and older brother Andy, she will have a transesophageal echocardiogram done.

In simple terms, Haley's surgical team at Maine Medical Center will insert a scope into her mouth and guide it into her heart to see what's causing her heart's mitral valve to not work as it should.

To learn why its failure causes blood and fluid to enter her lungs, leaving her with a chronic cough and an extreme fatigue that often requires her parents to carry her out of her kindergarten classroom - exhausted - after a school day.

What Haley's team finds will determine the next step.

If the problem is simple, they may be able to correct it by inserting a balloon catheter in hopes of enlarging the valve.

If not, Haley will need to have her damaged mitral valve replaced with an artificial one during a major, open heart surgery that, inherently, brings higher risks, possible complications, a longer recovery and tremendous expense.

Haley's medical and life journies have not been easy...for her, her parents, her brother and anyone who knows and loves her.
But Haley's serious medical issues are only half the story.

The other half centers on the financial toll a serious illness or medical condition can have for any any time...with little or no warning.

As a parent, I cannot fathom what Andy and Susan McLean have endured as they have watched their little girl struggle with a lifelong condition that, hopefully, will be resolved completely with the fewest number of surgeries possible.

As a human being with compassion - one who knows the McLean family for the wonderful people they are - I felt compelled to do something, anything, to help them with their financial challenges so they can focus on their daughter's health and wellness.

Many others who know the family - and many others who don't - feel the same way.

A fund-raising event has been coordinated for this weekend in Augusta and donation boxes have been scattered in a number of locations throughout the greater Augusta area. I suspect other fund raisers will follow.

The contributions already received have helped the family live while they care for their daughter.

But there undoubtedly will be many more expenses - gas money for trips to and from Maine Medical Center, lodging and food expenses while the family stays with Haley during her hospitalization... many things.

I reached out to the McLeans yesterday and spoke with Andy at length last night.

I mentioned this blog and the readership it has gained from those well beyond the Augusta area - those who may be inclined to help them financially but cannot get to the fund raisers or the donation boxes.

I asked Andy how you - my readers - can help his family. He said donations can be sent in Haley's name to:

Trademark Federal Credit Union
44 Edison Drive
Augusta, ME 04330
(207) 623-1134

Andy and Susan also emphasized how important it is for people to know that they're not "begging for money."

I told them that I - and many others - knew most assuredly they were not.

Instead we see a child and a family in need of help. A family that could be our any time and with little or no warning.

I ask that you consider opening your hearts - and your wallets - for Haley.

Your gift - regardless of the size - will help this family recover from a devastating series of events.

And it will help ensure the indelible "heart" this child has shown through her tests, procedures, surgeries and hospitalizations has a fully functional one to match.


  1. Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read about this wonderful little girl and her family. Please keep them in your prayers and support them in any way you can. I know my family will.

  2. Update from Susan McLean on Tuesday, March 13, 2012: Call it a miracle? I do! Haley McLean went through her cardiac catheterization today and her mitral valve was as good as it was back in 2009. We prayed for a miracle and it happened! She is still recovering and will definitely need a few more surgeries, but not today! Thank you Jesus for hearing your people! There is no other explanation.