Heart support: Benefit scheduled to help Fargo family
Five-month-old Jace Tillich is captivated by sports games on TV. Someday, when he's old enough to play sports, his parents will have plenty to tell him about the curve balls and hurdles they dealt with after he was born with a heart defect last D...
Five-month-old Jace Tillich is captivated by sports games on TV.
Someday, when he's old enough to play sports, his parents will have plenty to tell him about the curve balls and hurdles they dealt with after he was born with a heart defect last December.
A benefit on Thursday, though, aims to help the Fargo family with months of mounting medical bills.
"Man, we've been taking hit after hit," mom Joni Tillich said, "(but) we're moving forward."
About five hours after Jace was born, Joni Tillich started convulsing.
"It looked like she was having a seizure," said her husband, Justin.
She was rushed to the intensive care unit where doctors stabilized her after what they determined was a reaction to blood loss and anti-nausea medicine.
"I almost didn't make it," she said.
Everything seemed to be going better - until six days later. This time, it was Jace who was gasping for air.
The couple rushed the newborn to the hospital, where doctors determined he had two holes in his heart ventricles and a leaking vessel, putting him at risk for heart failure.
A surgery was scheduled for June. It was moved up to early May, though, after the couple had to again race Jace to the emergency room after finding him vomiting in his sleep.
Jace's heart, doctors said then, was three times the size it should be, consuming his chest cavity.
"It was basically a waiting game ... and hope and pray the heart failure didn't set in," Tillich said. "We had prayers across the nation and world for him."
Jace went into emergency open heart surgery at a Minneapolis hospital, and four days later, the surgery appeared to be successful.
He was released and now, with he and his mom's health stable, the couple hopes the worst is behind them.
"(It's been) just one thing after another. It's like, really?" Tillich said.
Tillich, who until recently worked at Teamsters in Fargo, helped manage and organize Make-A-Wish Foundation benefits to help the organization's efforts to serve children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Now, on Thursday, it's her family's turn to receive help.
"I was always on the other end of it," she said. "You always hope you're not in that situation, but it can happen really fast."
How to help
What: Tillich family benefit
Where: Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 613 16th St. S., Fargo
Info: Pork dinner from 4 to 7 p.m., silent auction at 4:30 p.m. and live auction at 7:30 p.m. Donations accepted online at www.dakmed.org/lendahand or by mail to Gate City Bank, 500 2nd Ave. N., PO Box 2847, Fargo, ND 58108.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515