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Only 2 years old, Osage girl to undergo heart surgery

Haley Sue Crandall

Haley Sue Crandall, 2, has no idea that in a couple weeks, she's about to endure a life-changing, and life-saving, event.

Born with three heart defects in 2010, Haley will undergo open heart surgery on Aug. 21 to repair an AV canal defect, atrial septal defect and mitral insufficiency.

When Haley was only a week old, her parents, Tricia and Lance Crandall of Osage, realized something was wrong.

"She had some symptoms, her lips turned blue and she was not eating, and I just had a feeling something was wrong," Tricia Crandall said.

They took her back to the hospital, which immediately sent them on to a heart specialist who performed an echocardiogram and found the defects.

"(I was) very scared. I felt, at that point, a lot of guilt," she said of hearing the news. "I just had her. I was supposed to be the one to take care of her. At that point, I was just very emotional. I felt very guilty and scared at the same time."

Regardless of any guilt or other feelings at the time, it's important to listen to yourself when it comes to your children, she added.

"Follow your instincts if you think there's something going on with your child. Really follow that because that's what helped us find Haley's defects," Crandall said.

Since the diagnosis, Haley meets with a heart specialist and has an echo every three months, and her family has to monitor her oxygen levels every day.

In March, she had RVS -- respiratory syncytial virus -- which is a common virus that leads to mild, cold-like symptoms and is more serious in young children than adults. She was hospitalized and had to be on oxygen.

Doctors had hoped to wait until Haley was 3 before performing open heart surgery, but they decided it's time, even though she is only 2.

"They wanted her as old as possible without causing permanent damage to her arteries," Crandall said of putting off the surgery. "But now she's showing more and more symptoms and her defect has gotten larger."

Some of those symptoms include oxygen levels in the 70 percent range and her lips, face, hands and feet turning blue.

"Even when she runs and plays, she'll start sweating and turning blue."

As a parent, Crandall said that's very scary to see happen. The Crandalls also have two sons, Jordan and Josh.

They haven't had Haley in a formal daycare because she's more susceptible to germs and would have a hard time fighting off any illnesses.

Her surgery at the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital will put her in the hospital for about two weeks. Once the defects are repaired, she should be good to go, though she will have to be monitored the rest of her life.

"Any time she has any kind of procedure, for example even just going to get her teeth cleaned or shots or anything, she has to be on antibiotics a week beforehand so she doesn't get an undue illness or bacteria infection."

She'll also have to have echoes every six months, possibly for the rest of her life.

The goal of this one surgery is to fix all the defects, but Crandall said the doctors aren't positive they'll be able to repair the mitral insufficiency this time around.

"We won't know until after surgery," she said.

Having these three defects at once is rare.

"They told me it was over 1 in over 100,000, and very rare to have all of these defects," Crandall said.

Luckily at 2 years old, Haley is oblivious to her heart conditions. Like any little kid, Crandall said her daughter gets crabby and irritable at times, but for Haley, it's when her oxygen levels are low.

Other than that, she's an average, happy and active 2-year-old.

"I don't think she understands at all it's her heart."

Family and friends have organized a benefit for Haley and the Crandall family. It is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 17, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Grace Community Church of Osage.

Crandall said her family appreciates the support they have gotten from the community, their employers and their co-workers.

"We could not do this without everyone and appreciate the thoughts and prayers by all."

For more information on Haley and her progress, visit her CaringBridge website at