“Hope” is a word that now has a very personal and deeper meaning for Derrick and Brittany Thygesen, both employees of Family Resource Center in Carroll.
On August 26, Derrick, FRC’s Chief Financial Officer, and Brittany, a Licensed Practical Nurse in FRC’s Day Habilitation program, learned that their infant daughter, Avery, now 8 weeks old, has a rare blood vessel disease which could very likely cause congestive heart failure. The Thygesens were told by doctors at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City that there is currently nothing medically possible that can be done to reverse Avery’s condition. Her blood vessels are too small to allow her to grow naturally, causing the right side of her heart to overwork, placing excessive stress on her tiny body.
Recalling the moment when he and Brittany were given Avery’s devastating diagnosis, Derrick says, “We were in shock; we weren’t expecting this kind of news at all. We had already been told that the blood vessels in Avery’s heart were too small, but we were thinking we might be told that the medical team would just wait until she grew enough to have some type of surgery that could help her condition.”
On that dismal August day, however, this was not the news that the Thygesens received. The couple instead learned that the small blood vessels are not only located in and around Avery’s heart, but are also present throughout her entire body. Doctors told the Thygesens to just take Avery home and love her.
Holding onto the one glimmer of hope that the doctors offered, Derrick says that he, Brittany, and their family and friends are all hoping and praying that Avery’s blood vessels will grow on their own. “We were told there’s a slim chance that if Avery survives until age three, there’s a possibility that a surgery can be performed at that time to help with her condition.”
In the meantime, the Thygesens await Avery’s genetic testing to learn if her condition is a random case, or if either Derrick or Brittany carry a gene which caused her condition. Brittany says, “The genetic testing results will take 4 to 6 weeks to be completed. When we get the results, they should be able to tell us if this is something that happened randomly, or if this condition could be passed on to other children we may have in the future. They did tell us that this only happens to approximately 1 in 50,000 babies.”
For the time being, the Thygesens are very grateful that FRC is allowing them to work a modified schedule, ensuring that one of them can be at home with Avery nearly all the time. Family members are also pitching in from time to time to give the couple a chance to rest and run errands.
Summing up his family’s gratitude for their local support, Derrick says, “We have been so overwhelmed by the compassion and generosity of our community, our friends and family, and our co-workers. It gives us strength to look ahead with hope and optimism for Avery’s future.”
“HOPE FOR AVERY” BRACELETS AND T-SHIRTS AVAILABLE AT FAMILY RESOURCE CENTER
Family Resource Center has initiated a fundraising effort for the Thygesen family to help defray medical costs and associated expenses. FRC is currently selling “Team Hope Avery” bracelets at $5.00 each at their Carroll location at 502 W. 7th Street. The agency will also have “Hope for Avery” t-shirts available to the public at a cost of $15 by September 18. In addition, Farm Credit Services in Carroll has set up an account at Bank of the West for individuals interested in making donations to the Thygesen family.