LEBANON, Ohio (FOX19) - Abby Sayers is just nine months old but she’s already survived two open-heart surgeries. Now the Lebanon community is rallying around her as she fights to have a normal life.
Abby’s parents found out about her rare heart defect, an unbalanced single ventricle, right before she was born.
“I was really, really scared,” Brittany Sayers said.
Abby’s father Ray Hottinger says even with everything his little girl has faced in the last nine months, she’s still an active infant.
“She’s always rolling around and getting into things,” he said.
“She’s a survivor, and I just love her," Brittany added. “She made it a long way.”
Abby’s most recent open-heart surgery in October went well and she is now recovering. She still has hurdles ahead of her in the road to a normal life, chiefly a third surgery, which she’ll have to have in a few years’ time.
“They’re going to go in and end up repairing the rest of her heart,” Ray explained.
Abby will also need continued medical care and additional heart surgeries to continue to grow and develop.
That amount of medical intervention can put a financial strain on a family, something Beth Daniels, whose son has a heart defect, knows all too well.
Daniels founded Have a Heart to Save a Heart, a local nonprofit that raises money for families to assist with medical, travel and other costs associated with having a child with a congenital heart defect.
Insurance covers some of that, but Daniels says it doesn’t cover all of it.
“You know, it covers the major medical stuff, but it doesn’t cover living at the hospital and lost wages because you can’t go to work,” she explained.
Abby, Brittany, and Ray were the beneficiaries of Daniels’ work Saturday as the nonprofit hosted its 4th annual benefit and selected them as the 2020 special heart warrior family.
The event was held at the Lebanon Eagles and featured live music, a cash bar, and raffles. Every dollar raised went to Abby’s family.
“We’re very thankful and blessed,” Brittany said. “A lot of people love us and Abby.”
Asked if he has a message for a family that might go through what they’ve gone through, Ray said, “Don’t give up. It does get easier."
If you missed the event but want to help support Abby and her family, you can donate here.