A miracle named KendraDave and Sara Lynch of Alexandria have piles of medical bills, are severely sleep deprived, and have worries that no parents should ever have.
By: Tara Bitzan, Alexandria Echo Press
Dave and Sara Lynch of Alexandria have piles of medical bills, are severely sleep deprived, and have worries that no parents should ever have.
But they’ve also got something that makes all that seem trivial – a miracle named Kendra.
Kendra was born August 16, 2008. It took only minutes for doctors to realize something wasn’t right. She had problems breathing, and her heart kept stopping.
“They thought the problem was her heart,” Dave said. “They did an electrocardiogram and found a small hole, but nothing that would indicate what was happening.”
Kendra’s reactions became more seizure-like, and it was determined the problem was neurological. She was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. During the 40-minute flight, she had four seizure episodes.
Dave and his dad drove to Children’s Hospital that night.
“I didn’t know if she’d be alive when we got there,” Dave said. “Before leaving the hospital we were losing her every 10 minutes.”
Kendra was stabilized with anti-seizure medication. After more testing, doctors determined her condition was caused by blood clots in the two main arteries in her brain. These caused two strokes – one on each side of her brain – while Kendra was still in the womb days prior to her birth.
At midnight, about 11 hours after her birth, Dave was told Kendra suffered brain damage, the extent of which was yet unknown.
“That was the hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life,” he said of deciding whether to call his wife and tell her the news that night, or wait until the next day when she joined him at the hospital. He called, and together they grieved and prayed for a miracle.
MRI and MRA testing later showed severe brain damage on both the right and left side.
“We were told she’s probably never going to walk, talk, crawl, sit on her own or eat solid food,” Sara said.
They were also told Kendra was one of the worst cases of stroke-related brain damage in a newborn doctors had seen.
“Usually they are stillborn,” Sara explained. “That’s probably what would have happened with Kendra if I hadn’t been induced.”
But Kendra was born alive, and that alone was a miracle to her parents, who were determined to do everything they could to help her progress.
After two and a half weeks at the hospital, the family was able to bring her home.
The family adjusts
Once Kendra came home, the Lynches tried to create a “normal” routine, especially for their other three children.
“It’s been hard on them,” Sara said. “We’ve had some behavioral issues.”
Callie, 6 1/2, was the most excited about having a new baby, but has kept her distance from Kendra. Five-year-old Kassidy, on the other hand, has impressed her parents with her patience and nurturing. Noah, 2 1/2, became clingy to his mother during Kendra’s hospitalization.
The family credits the Ronald McDonald House for helping them care for all their children while tending to Kendra’s needs.
“It was amazing,” Sara said. “I don’t know how we would have it done it without that place.”
At home, it wasn’t only the children who needed to adjust – the parents did as well.
Kendra’s feedings take more than an hour each time, she needs medications four times a day, and she doesn’t let her parents get much sleep.
“She cries a lot, but it’s not your normal baby cry,” Sara said. “She screams.”
The screaming was frequent before Kendra was placed on medications to relax her muscles. She’s gotten better, but still has her moments.
“She hates her car seat,” Dave explained. “She’ll scream all the way to doctor appointments.”
Kendra goes to physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions and sees a nutritionist and chiropractor, in addition to her regular medical visits.
The biggest adjustment Dave and Sara have had to make is trying to balance work with the needs of their family.
Sara worked full time for Larsen Allen in Alexandria. After depleting her maternity leave, she was fortunate to work out a flexible schedule and work some hours from home.
Dave did heating and cooling work for a St. Cloud-based company, averaging 60 to 70 hours per week. Due to the demands of Kendra’s condition, he was unable to fill the schedule the company needed and was laid off.
He is currently trying to arrange some part-time opportunities that will allow him to alternate his schedule with Sara’s. They’ve also received babysitting help from members of First Baptist Church.
The Lynches have no idea what is in store for Kendra.
She has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, dystonia (muscle spasms), is at high risk of multiple seizure types, and suffers from cortical blindness. The plates in the back of her head are fusing over the top of each other, causing her head to be smaller than normal.
She also tends to severely arch her back and fight body movements. She just received a wheelchair that will aid with this and help the Lynches transport her more comfortably.
It has been determined that Kendra’s condition stems from a genetic blood clotting disorder, which Sara and the other three children have since tested positive.
“It may not impact them, but it’s something to be aware of,” Dave explained. “They shouldn’t sit longer than two hours without moving, and things like that.”
The family has no idea at this point how Kendra will develop, or what she will be able to master.
“We’ve been told she probably won’t be able to ever sit on her own,” Sara said. “But we’ll wait and see. For now the big thing is to get her eating solids.”
In the meantime, they’ll celebrate the small pleasures, like the rare moments when Kendra shows signs of a smile.
“It’s rare, so when she does it, we stop to treasure it,” Dave said, beaming at his daughter.
A benefit will be held for the Lynch family to help with Kendra’s medical expenses.
The event is Saturday, June 27 at the Eagles Lodge in Alexandria. It includes a barbecue supper served from 5 to 8 p.m., a silent auction with themed gift baskets and a live auction starting at 7:15 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the door for $6.50 for adults, and $4 for children younger than age 12. Children younger than age 5 are free.
Supplemental funds will be provided by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Douglas County Chapter 31301.