Aspen Alexis Wiederholt, 13, has dealt with more than any other normal person her age can imagine.
She is a fighter, a trooper and a miracle that is loved by many people. She has undergone open heart surgery seven times and will go through more surgery as she grows.
The daughter of Ray and Kara Wiederholt, Alta, Aspen was born on Sept. 11, 1994 (9-1-1) at Evans Army Hospital Fort Carson Colo. At birth she seemed to be a normal newborn baby girl until she was 24 hours old. She wouldn't eat or sleep and was very fussy. Aspen was transferred to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colo. for an emergency cardiac catheterization. She was diagnosed with having a coarctation of the aorta and aortic stenosis (narrowing of the aorta and the aortic valve was not functioning properly). Aspen was then rushed to Children's Hospital in Denver, Colo. where at the age of 2 days she underwent her first open heart surgery to reconstruct her aorta.
She was released from the hospital at 10 days old only to return the same day in congestive heart failure due to a complication from the previous surgery where her phrenic nerve was nicked therefore causing her diaphragm to become paralyzed, collapsing her lungs, and ultimately resulting in heart failure. During that stay in the hospital she underwent a valvoplasty as well. At 16 months of age she again had open heart surgery at Washington, D.C. Children's Hospital to reconstruct her aorta due to her growth the previous surgery on her aorta was basically scar tissue and had narrowed.
At the age of 5 Aspen had yet another open heart surgery call the Ross Procedure. During this surgery her aortic valve was removed completely. Her pulmonary valve was moved to the aortic valve position and a cadaveretic valve was placed in the pulmonary valve position. During that surgery a VSD (ventricular septal defect) was formed. A VSD is a small opening between the two lower chambers of the heart.
That surgery was considered a great success and proved to be just that until April 2007 when Aspen had another open heart surgery to reconstruct her aortic root and assess the condition of the valve. The valve was still good. During that hospitalization Aspen had to have a single lead pacemaker placed because her heart's conduction system had been changed throughout all of the manipulation of her heart muscle. At that time she was diagnosed with a heart block. Over the course of the next year her pacemaker worked fine being used in intermittent periods. But her aortic valve seemed to deteriorate.
This February, Aspen went to see her cardiologist for a routine check up. At that appointment it was discovered that her aortic valve had become diseased and needed to be replaced and her aorta was starting to narrow again and would have to be stented at some point in the future. Before surgery she had to have a CT scan of her chest and a cardiac stress test. The stress test revealed that her heart needed a different pacemaker. Her surgery was set for March 18, a mechanical valve replacement. However, that surgery had complications also, during surgery the pulmonary artery was opened because all of the scar tissue around the great vessels from previous surgery.
Aspen was placed on the heart bypass machine twice during that surgery, once for the valve replacement and once after her heart was restarted and the bleeding pulmonary artery was discovered. That was repaired and her new pacemaker was placed. Gauze was packed around her heart to absorb any more bleeding. After 12 hours, she was out of surgery and in the ICU. Aspen was heavily sedated for two days and had to have the gauze removed on March 20. Bringing the total number of times her chest was opened to seven. In addition to the seven surgeries she has had nine cardiac catheterizations. Either for treatments or to gain diagnostic data. Aspen will have to have more surgery as she gets older, she will have to have her pulmonary valve and pulmonic root replaced result of surgery number three, when that valve is no longer functional. She will have to have her mitral valve replaced because it does not close correctly and leaks. There will be occasional pacemaker replacements as the batteries wear out. Having a mechanical valve means that Aspen is now taking Coumadin, a blood thinner, and has to have her blood tested frequently to insure that it is "thin" enough and clots do not form around her valve. Aspen is not allowed to play sports where she could start bleeding if hit or knocked down.
Aspen's mother Kara Wiederholt (Butler) is originally from Storm Lake and returned to Iowa after living in Colorado for 18 years. Her father is Ray Wiederholt (Storm Lake High School Girls Soccer Coach and employed at Cherokee Mental Heath) is from Elk River, Minn. Aspen is a seventh grader at Alta Middle School.
She has a brother, Jamie Wiederholt (6) that attends Alta Elementary School in the first grade; two sisters Kyrie Butler (18) a senior at Storm Lake High School, and Haley Owens (16) a junior at Storm Lake High School.
Aspen's family in the Storm Lake area includes Ursula Butler (grandmother), Jamie and Bobbi Jo Butler (Uncle and Aunt), Jason and Jess Butler (uncle and aunt), Paul Henningson (very close family friend), The Berentschot family (very close family friends) and many close family friends (too many to mention them all).
The family depends on their faith to get through each surgery. They live by this motto, which came from Ray's mom who died from cancer. "God doesn't give you anything that you can't handle."
If you have any questions please feel free to call Erin Berentschot at (712) 749-2938.
A spaghetti dinner in honor of Aspen
Wiederholt will be held on April 27 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Alta Community Center.
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans will be
supplementing funds for Aspen.
There will also be a raffle for
two Ganz Webkinz:
one ticket for $2 or three tickets for $5.
There are also several donation cans set up in town. Checks need to made to Thrivent Financial for
Lutherans and sent to:
5511 30th Ave
Alta, Ia 51002