Community to raise money for middle school teacher’s sonShortly after Gideon Carpenter was delivered in his parents Ellsworth home Dec. 29, the midwives who helped with the birth noticed he had characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
By: Sarah Gorvin, The Republican Eagle
Shortly after Gideon Carpenter was delivered in his parents Ellsworth home Dec. 29, the midwives who helped with the birth noticed he had characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
The newborn, along with mother Michaela, were brought to River Falls Hospital before being sent on to Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.
Doctors there confirmed the midwives’ diagnosis.
”We weren’t disappointed or anything like that,” said Gideon’s father Brian Carpenter.
But Gideon had more medical issues than just the genetic disorder. Children with Down syndrome also often have a heart defect. Doctors discovered that instead of the four valves that a healthy heart has, Gideon only had one large one. He also had a narrowing in his aorta, and he would need surgery to repair both conditions.
Gideon was transferred to Children’s in Minneapolis for surgery to repair what doctors deemed his most pressing issue — the narrowing in his aorta.
”But he couldn’t go right into surgery,” Carpenter said. He and Michaela — who had been released from the hospital where she was treated for hemorrhaging after delivery — realized something else was wrong.
“We noticed that his tummy was getting bloated … and felt some lumps,” Carpenter said.
Doctors found that Gideon also had a narrowing in his intestinal tract, which was causing the bloating and lumps.
So, at just 1 day old, Gideon underwent surgery to fix his stomach. The next day, he had surgery to fix his heart.
But the newborn’s struggles weren’t over. He was sent home from the hospital, but that February he got sick again and was taken back to Minneapolis.
Gideon would stay in the hospital for more than four months.
”He was the longest heart patient that they’ve ever had,” Carpenter said.
Throughout that spring and into June, Michaela stayed with Gideon in the hospital while Brian, a teacher at Twin Bluff Middle School, stayed at home with the couple’s other eight children.
”It was a lot of traveling back and forth,” Carpenter said.
He added that all eight children went with to visit their youngest sibling in Minneapolis.
”We travel as a family,” Carpenter added.
Now, in order to help the couple with medical expenses, along with the cost of the multiple trips to Minneapolis, Carpenter’s coworkers — along with family friends — are hold a benefit Saturday Oct. 8.
“The gas driving back and forth and the meals necessarily,” said Sue Goetz, Carpenter’s co-worker at Twin Bluff and one of the event’s organizers. “I just felt that they really needed some support financially.”
Goetz said she, along with co-worker Brian Cashman, began organizing the benefit this summer. Since then, others have joined them.
“We’re extremely grateful that someone would be willing to organize this and see the need and get out there and spread the word and be so generous and giving,” Carpenter said.
The benefit will be at First Covenant Church in Red Wing and feature a silent auction, food and music.
And, while Gideon is at home now, the Carpenters remember those months that he was in the hospital — that also included treatment for a blood disease he developed and another surgery to fix his aorta — as ”a roller coaster,” Carpenter said.
The newborn isn’t entirely out of the woods yet. Carpenter said his son is having trouble gaining weight and he still has moderate to severe leakage in his heart, which doctors will continue to monitor.
”Some children can live with it and be just fine,” Carpenter said. ”Others may have to have it repaired.”
Carpenter said Gideon – and his eight siblings – will be at next Saturday’s benefit. For him and his family, the community’s generosity seems to be the silver lining in the whole situation.
“Our family is just extremely grateful and overwhelmed. Really and truly,” he said. “This whole experience has been a blessing.”
If you go…
What: Benefit for Gideon Carpenter
When: Saturday, Oct. 8, 4:30 p.m.
Where: First Covenant Church, 2302 Twin Bluff Road
More info: Call 651.388.4109
Guests are asked to bring items for the silent auction and food for a potluck dinner. Financial donations can be made at any time to the Gideon Carpenter Trust Benefit at any Wells Fargo branch.