MORTON - The Morton High School boys’ basketball team and Coach Matt Franks are hosting the 7th annual Gameball Run event to raise money and awareness for Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Each school in District 709 has selected a Miracle Family to represent the services provided by Children’s Hospital and the impact it has on Morton families. To financially support Gameball Run, donate online at www.MortonGameballRun.org. Each school is hosting events, with all proceeds going to Children’s Hospital of Illinois.

The Miracle Family representing Lincoln Elementary School is Taevin Hangartner and his family – Ashley, Logan, Taevin, Titus, and Selah Hangartner. 

Every family has a story, and it’s usually not what you see on the outside. Our stories are often messy, filled with twists and turns and joys that can only come after experiencing heartbreak. Our stories are brimming with laughter, but there are tears interspersed. Yet, it’s during this refining process that we really find out who we are. “Every family has a story… and this is ours,” said Ashley Hangartner. 

The day of Taevin’s birth was a day of the unexpected. It was a defining day as the Hangartner family of two officially became three. “Taevin entered our world via c-section, and the joy of finding out you have a baby boy and hearing his first cry is indescribable, almost surreal,” said Ashley Hangartner. Logan, Taevin’s dad, was able to hold his son briefly and they showed Ashley, Taevin’s mom, his sweet little face and perfect little hands. “Moments later he was whisked away by the NICU team, and as I saw them working so intently on my baby, my nursing instincts kicked in and I asked Logan, “Is everything OK?,” said Ashley Hangartner.    

Everything was not OK. Taevin was having difficulty breathing. His respiratory distress progressed and he was transferred to the NICU to receive supplemental oxygen. The following day he was intubated for full support on a ventilator. Taevin was diagnosed with PPHN (Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension in Newborns). His pulmonary pressures were so high that he was unable to get an ample amount of oxygen to his blood. Treatment for this condition mainly consists of supportive care until the pulmonary HTN decreases and the baby begins oxygenating appropriately on its own.  

“For eight days, we watched our baby fight for his life on the ventilator,” said Ashley. Eventually he required Nitric Oxide to facilitate oxygen delivery to his sick body and medical sedation to minimize oxygen requirements. “They put a mask over Taevin’s eyes and ears, dimmed the lights, and told Logan and I that we could not touch or talk to our baby as any stimulation could compromise his respiratory status.”  

After Ashley was officially discharged, Logan and Ashley drove home to get a few hours of much needed sleep before heading back to the hospital. 

“There in the back of our vehicle was an empty car seat. The stark reality of our situation hit us and we sat broken on our bedroom floor begging God for the life of our child.”  

“By the grace of God and through the expert care we received at the Children’s Hospital, Taevin did turn a corner, said Ashley. “When he was 8 days old, the medical team removed his breathing tube and I was able to hold my son for the first time.”  

From there, Taevin spent another week in the NICU as the medical team weaned him off the oxygen treatments and tracked his growth with oral feedings.  

“Our homecoming was sweeter than we could have imagined as we knew what a gift it was to bring him home.”  

The Hangartner’s story with the Children’s Hospital was not over yet. In December, Taevin became ill with a respiratory virus which developed into a severe case of croup.  When Taevin did not respond to conventional treatment, his pediatrician Dr. Beaty ordered a chest X-ray. The X-ray showed that Taevin had an enlarged heart leading Dr. Beaty to believe that Taevin may have underlying congenital heart disease. Taevin was admitted to the hospital overnight to receive respiratory support and an echocardiogram to get a better visual of his heart. The results of the echo revealed that Taevin had a large atrial septal defect. Usually, these are noticed in the office at a regular appointment by the presence of a murmur from turbulent flow across the defect. Taevin’s ASD was so large that there was no turbulent flow and therefore, no murmur. Blood from the left side of his heart was being shunted across the defect to the right side which led to the heart enlargement because of the increased pressure and blood volume.  

At the time, Ashley had been working as a nurse in the Cardiovascular ICU for almost five years.  

“While taking care of patients who recently had heart surgery was a commonplace, I never expected to have my child on the receiving end of that care,” said Ashley. “However, the fact that I already knew his surgeon, Dr. Fortuna, and the OR heart team, gave me confidence that I was placing my son into the hands of those that would treat him with utmost care.”  

Taevin underwent open heart surgery in March of 2012.  

“He had some minor complications postop but we were still able to go home three days later, giving us two months to allow Taevin to recover before his baby brother would join us,” said Ashley. 

“Years later, I came across an article from a medical journal describing PPHN and evidence based care for treatment,” said Ashley Hangartner. “The mortality rate for PPHN ranges from 10-30%. This article had been written several years after Taevin was born. The evidence based care outlines were nearly identical to the treatment Taevin had received at the Children’s Hospital. I believe Taevin is still with us because of God’s grace and the expert care we received. 

Taevin’s story is not over yet. In fact it’s just beginning.”