CRYSTAL LAKE – Since birth, 5-month-old Everly Backe has been in and out of the hospital with her family as they address her congenital heart defect.
“You don’t know how common it is until you live at a hospital for some time,” said Lauren Backe, Everly’s mother.
About 1 in 100 babies are born with a congenital heart defect, according to the Children’s Heart Foundation. Although the surgeries occur at such a young age, many go on to live lengthy lives thanks to today’s medical advancements.
Some of Backe’s college friends organized an event from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 27 at Metro Bowl, 77 Brink St.,Crystal Lake, to benefit Everly and raise awareness of CHDs. Tickets are $25 for adults and include entrance, food, bowling and billiards. The event is for adults only because of limited space.
Doctors have performed two open-heart surgeries on Everly so far, along with one catheter procedure. Her next surgery will be in the summer, around her first birthday.
The family was just happy to be home together for the holidays. Backe and Everly returned to Crystal Lake from Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn two days before Christmas.
“I beat myself up for so long,” Backe said, adding that she thought she must have done something wrong during pregnancy.
Although Everly has to be kept away from larger crowds as she grows stronger, the family is enjoying having her home for a few months before she goes back to the hospital.
As American Heart Month approaches in February, the Backe family is trying to raise awareness about congenital heart defects.
Everly’s 5-year-old brother, Jack Backe, seemed to hold down the fort just fine with the help of his grandparents and father. He also had a special request for Christmas.
“He asked Santa to fix her heart for Christmas,” Backe said. “Santa had to write a letter saying doctors are working on it, and she needs to grow a little more and have one more surgery before she’s 1 year old.”
Jack has reached 20 percent of his goal of collecting 1 million pop tabs for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago and northwest Indiana. The Ronald McDonald House allows families to access specialized medical treatment by providing a place to stay at little or sometimes no cost.
That is how Backe and Everly stayed away from home while the patriarch went back to work in August.
For information on the upcoming fundraiser and to order tickets, visit happilyeverlyafter8417.blogspot.com/2017/11/please-join-us-for-great-time-to.html.
“It will be our first time seeing a lot of people in a while,” Backe said. “It will be nice to not be so isolated.”