Published in the Iola Register on Jun. 23, 2009.

Giving to others in time of need marks Breckyn Reynolds' first birthday

By Sharon Coy

Breckyn Reynolds' first birthday celebration, June 12, highlighted giving more than receiving, and with good reason.
When Breckyn, daughter of Kim and J.T. Reynolds, rural Concordia, was only five weeks old, she was taken to the emergency room at Republic County Hospital in Belleville and, soon after, flown to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Here, it was discovered Breckyn had three heart defects: transposition of the great arteries, a ventricular septal defect and pulmonary valve stenosis.
The flight crew and Children’s Mercy nurses described her as the most critical patient they had ever had. She was in surgery 45 minutes after her arrival for what doctors described as a “temporary fix” in hopes it would serve until she was older and stronger. However, one week later, it was found the “fix” was not sufficient and more invasive open heart surgery had to be done.
On March 11, Breckyn underwent more surgery to fix the Gore-Tex® patch to redirect the blood flow. Baby cadaver tissue was used for reconstruction outside of the heart, so that the pulmonary artery and aorta were getting blood where it needed to go.
In the the first nine months of her life, Breckyn had three heart catheters and two open heart surgeries.
Just two days after Breckyn was flown to CMH, Kim was sitting in the Pediatric ICU when a nurse brought in a large box addressed to her and J.T. In this box were items such as travel size shampoo, conditioner, tissues, aspirin, a gift card to the cafeteria and a book called “It’s My Heart,” which explains every possible heart defect and how it is treated.
“It was amazing to go through this stuff because it is everything you need but nothing you have time to pack or remember to pack when you are put in an emergency situation,” Kim said.
Later, Kim learned about and joined a support group called Congenital Heart Defects Families Association or CHD Families. “Congenital heart defects are the number one birth defect, killing more babies than children’s cancer,” Kim said.
Through her association with CHD Families, Kim learned that care packages such as the one she and J.T. received are one of the projects this group undertakes.
In corresponding with Valerie Rexin, executive director of CHD Families, Kim learned that last year more than 190 babies with heart defects came through the pediatric unit, but they barely had enough items to make 80 care packages.
Kim said that it was then that she realized Breckyn’s purpose on earth. "It is to make sure that all these babies and their families had care packages," she said.
That is where Breckyn"s first birthday initiated the joy of giving. Instead of having a birthday party and having people bring gifts to her, she suggested in an invitation on her CaringBridge page on the Internet that people bring care package items for the CHD Organization in Kansas City to make packages for parents in their time of need.
Thus far, Breckyn has collected $394 and a huge basket of care package items.
Her birthday collection is continuing until July 13. Travel size toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, tissues, a toothbrush, disposable razors, chapstick, notepads or cash donations for purchasing toiletry items, cafeteria gift cards or material for making blankets are all welcome. Items may be brought to the Catholic Parish Hall or to the Admissions Office at Cloud County Community College.
Breckyn is now at home with her parents and sisters, Peyton, 9, and Kendall, 6. She is under the care of Dr. Nolan Beaver, Belleville, who delivered her and who consults regularly with the cardiology team from Children’s Mercy. She will be returning to Children’s Mercy in mid-July for a checkup and to personally deliver the birthday collection of CHD care package items.
People may keep track of Breckyn's progress by logging on to caringbridge.org and visiting her site, breckynreynolds.