The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

May 16, 2013

Parents of triplets embarking on Heart Association campaign

To the casual observer, it sounds odd: One of their triplets has a heart defect, and Jayme and Chris Harper are grateful.

“It could have been much worse,” Jayme said. “We just thank God every day she’s alive. We’re grateful. Be thankful for what you have, and not what you don’t have.”

What they have are three girls they love, and despite odds that were stacked highly against their favor, they will be celebrating their second birthday today.

The family also is embarking on a five-month campaign to raise money and awareness for the American Heart Association, as one of the girls, Lauren, was chosen last month to publicly represent the Four-State Heart Walk in Joplin in September.

She’s the perfect candidate, her mother said. She has had three heart surgeries, and is fitted with a pacemaker that continually monitors her heart rate, and beats for her if needed.

“We want to get the word out that it’s just not an elderly person’s disease,” Jayme said.

The triplets were born May 17, 2011, at Freeman Hospital a full eight weeks prematurely. Five days later, their home on Jackson Avenue was blown away by an EF-5 twister while they continued to struggle in the neonatal intensive care unit NICU.

Addison, the feisty one at 1.13 pounds, had been born first, followed by Lauren, the more laid-back of the three, weighing in at 2.2 pounds. Reagan, the last to make an appearance, was the biggest at 3.11 pounds.

Reagan was the first to leave Freeman in early July 2011, weighing in at 6.9 pounds. Addison was next on Aug. 11, weighing 5.7 pounds. But Lauren required multiple surgeries at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City to correct a congenital heart condition, and wouldn’t come home for good until December that year.

In the year following their birth, their parents shared updates with the Globe on several occasions: Finding and settling into their new home, the generosity of friends and strangers, their first Christmas together.

Their medical ordeals are far from over, however.

“We still go to Kansas City every eight weeks for Lauren and Addison,” Jayme said. “We’re getting ready to go see the kidney doctor for first time, because Lauren also has only one functioning kidney.”

During one of her heart surgeries, a vocal chord was accidentally clipped and therefore paralyzed, which necessitated a feeding tube because it limited her ability to swallow. It also limited her speech.

“She’s speaking a little bit now, but she will be limited. She can hear us; you can understand her. Like she says the basics — ’Mom,’ ‘Dad,’ ‘Nana’. But unfortunately for her birthday, we can only give her icing. The feeding tube will be there awhile,” Jayme said.

But that hasn’t deterred the family for looking outside of themselves.

“We went to the Heart Walk last year in Joplin at Missouri Southern, to test the waters,” she said. “We were invited by her heart doctor’s office in Springfield, and we thought, ‘What a great thing to be in.’

“Then we decided to challenge ourselves. We said, ‘We’re going to give back. We were given this gift, this child.’”

The family registered for the Heart Walk in Springfield, held this April, and got busy raising money. Their total was $1,100.

During conversations with organizers, Harper shared their experiences and previous Joplin Globe articles.

“They heard our story, and they asked us if Lauren would be the face of the Heart Walk in Joplin,” Jayme said. “I told him, ‘Put us to work any way you can, because it’s our chance to give back, because the American Heart Association had helped Lauren so much’.”

Their goal for the Joplin Heart Walk is to raise $2,200 — double what they raised for Springfield. Having just begun, they have $50.

“But hey, that’s a foot in the door,” Jayme said.

They have asked those planning to attend her birthday party to, in lieu of gifts, give donations for the Heart Walk.

They also have embarked on a media campaign in partnership with the American Heart Association to promote the event.

“We do a lot of media stuff, they’ll use her photo on posters, and when we get to the event, we’ll go up on stage and tell our story,” Jayme said. “We’re trying to spread awareness that it’s not just an old person’s disease. It happens in little people.”

 

Infants affected

An estimated minimum of 32,000 infants are expected by the American Heart Association to be affected each year by heart defects. Of these, about 25 percent require invasive treatment in the first year of life.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Nevada City Attorney chosen to advise Neosho Ethics Board

    The Neosho City Council on Monday appointed Bill McCaffree, Nevada city attorney, as special counsel to the Neosho Ethics Board. McCaffree will provide the ethics board with legal advice as it investigates an ethics complaint against council members Steve Hart and David Ruth. The vote to hire McCaffree was 3-2, with Hart and Ruth voting against the motion.

    April 22, 2014

  • Jasper County Commission approves contract for storage building expansion

    The Jasper County Commission on Tuesday approved a contract to expand an equipment storage building at the county’s Highway Department Complex on North River Street. The commissioners accepted a bid from Matt Denney Construction Co., Carthage, to build the 3,000-square-foot addition at a cost of $62,375.

    April 22, 2014

  • Carthage School Board advances funding for building projects

    Financing for a series of building projects planned in the Carthage School District was advanced Monday by members of the Carthage School Board. The board approved a resolution authorizing the sale of $18 million in bonds to finance a series of building improvements and approved lease-purchase financing for the early childhood center currently under construction.

    April 22, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Golf tournament supports SIDS research, awareness

    There are probably a lot of reasons the Marshall Dean Keller Memorial Golf Tournament continues to grow year after year, but one of the biggest just might be the cause it supports.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nixon: Tax-cut bill holds fatal flaw; area lawmakers say stance totally false

    Another year has brought yet another tax-cut fight between Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon and the Republican-led Missouri General Assembly, and on Tuesday, Nixon announced that he had found what he sees as a fatal flaw.

    April 22, 2014

  • NEO_Big_Event - Bright.jpg NEO students step up for Big Event

    Leann Hartman has a 30-foot ditch filled with leaves that she has to clean out every spring. For the retired schoolteacher, this usually means paying a company to clean it for her, only to have to do it again the following year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • r042214earthday.jpg Local group launches clean air plan on Earth Day

    It was an Earth Day first for Stephany Aquinaga, a pre-med student and member of the biology club at Missouri Southern State University. “This is the first time I have ever planted a tree,” she said.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Neosho teachers express support for Common Core State Standards

    Neosho teachers on Monday voiced their full support for Common Core State Standards. They made their statements to board members during the Neosho Board of Education meeting as an agenda item.

    April 22, 2014

  • Gov. Nixon raises new concern about income tax cut

    Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon raised new concerns Tuesday that a tax cut the Legislature approved could have “cataclysmic” consequences for state revenues — an assertion a Republican legislative leader dismissed as “absurd.”

    April 22, 2014

  • Earth Day features celebrations

    It's Earth Day, and students and others throughout the Four States are celebrating.

     

    April 22, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday that a tax cut approved by the Legislature could have a “cataclysmic” effect on state revenues to the tune of $4.8 billion. House Majority Leader John Diehl calls that “absurd.” Who do you believe?

A. Nixon
B. Diehl
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter