Community rallies to support Waterloo baby with heart defect - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Community rallies to support Waterloo baby with heart defect

A Waterloo baby suffering from a hole in the heart is getting support from the community to help pay for medical expenses. A Waterloo baby suffering from a hole in the heart is getting support from the community to help pay for medical expenses.

Harley Deuell is just 11 weeks old. His mom Kristy had a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery on February 27.

But when Kristy and husband Jeff took Harley for his first check-up at five days old, doctors found something pretty scary.

"His heart beat was too fast," said dad Jeff Deuell.

Several tests and specialists later, the Deuells learned Harley had a hole in his heart big enough that it won't be able to close on its own.  So as soon as Harley gets strong enough, probably in about six months, he'll have to undergo open heart surgery.

"He's just a little baby, you know," Deuell said. "Obviously they're pretty resilient, but Mom and Dad have got to watch this little baby, and it's hard, you know."

Harley's situation is pretty common.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates 1 percent of all babies in the U.S. are born with some form of congenital heart problem.  The most common type is called a ventricular septal defect, or VSD, where there is a hole in the heart.

Most babies with VSD are treated with medication, and need surgery to patch the heart's hole. Harley needs both heart medicine and a feeding tube to stay healthy before surgery.

The Deuells say it's been challenging to give Harley the constant care he needs while also raising their five-year-old daughter.

"It's pretty overwhelming," Deuell said.

But also overwhelming is the community's support, including from total strangers who are organizing a benefit over the Memorial Day weekend.

"I grew up in the motorcycle community, and so they've always come together for people that need help and stuff like that," Deuell said. "I guess I never thought we'd be on the receiving end of something like that. My co-workers and family, too, are coming together and it's just awesome."

And doctors believe that, once Harley's heart surgery is complete, there's every reason to think he'll grow up to be a happy, healthy boy.

A benefit is planned for Sunday, May 26. The motorcycle ride will take off at noon from the 13th Step in Waterloo.

Registration starts at 11 a.m. and is $10 with the donation of a non-perishable food item to participate. A carry-in dinner will also be served after the ride. Hamburgers and hot dogs are provided. Riders are asked to bring a side dish to share.

You can also donate canned good items to help the family anytime between now and the ride May 26 at the following locations: 13th Step in Waterloo, Bear's Den in Oran, Boyd's in Fairbank, and End Zone in Denver.

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