By Kristine Kern
Twelve weeks into her pregnancy Susan and John VandenBerg of Hills learned that their baby had multiple defects and that their family was going to have many obstacles to overcome. Susan and John chose to place their future in God's hands and have faith that whatever the outcome for them and their baby that it would be God's plan. Susan and John entered the world of high risk pregnancies with many doctor's visits and ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy. They knew the baby was a boy and chose the name Kaden which means "little fighter". Their doctor advised Susan to deliver the baby in Ann Arbor, MI at the Mott Children's Hospital because it was the best facility for repairing their babies heart defect.
On their doctors visit September 18th doctors found that Susan had too little amniotic fluid which meant Kaden would be born prematurely. Susan and John went to Ann Arbor where Susan and the baby were monitored. On September 27th, 2012, at 37 weeks, Kaden John VandenBerg entered the world weighing 6 lbs 8 oz. Kaden was born with a cleft lip and palate, hole in the diaphragm, intestines outside the body, and a double outlet right ventricle heart defect and two holes in his heart Kaden also had underdeveloped lungs so was put on a ventilator to help him use the full capacity of his lungs. But Susan and John wrote in their Christmas letter "he also has a fighting spirit, beautiful eyes, and a strong handgrip."
John and Susan have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House across from the Mott Children's Hospital as Kaden is cared for in the newborn intensive care unit. Doctor's have been able to push most of Kaden's intestines in so he only has a little bit outside his tummy. They are waiting for Kaden's lungs to mature and for some fluid buildup to drain before they do heart surgery. They hope to do heart surgery in March or the first part of April. Although John, Susan and Kaden have just started what will undoubtedly be a long journey of surgeries, doctors visits and rehabilitation they are blessed with a strong faith and supportive friends and family. Susan's parents Don and Marlene Rabenberg of Rushmore and John's mother Elaine VandenBerg of Hills along with their siblings and many special friends have made many trips to Ann Arbor as often as possible. John's employer, Thier Trucking of Adrian, has been supportive as John parked his truck and headed to Ann Arbor with Susan in September. Susan works as a pharmacist at the Childrens Hospital in Sioux Falls and will go back to work on February 14th for a week and then will head back to Michigan to be with Kaden and John. Susan comments “We are overwhelmed with the tremendous kindness, love and faith the community has shown us with their gifts, cards, and prayers. We are thankful for the blessing of Kaden’s life and that God has carried us this far. Please keep praying for healing for Kaden.”
John and Susan's friends and family have set up a fundraiser for the family on February 9th at the Hills Christian School Gym. There will be a free will lunch of hot dogs, BBQ, chili dogs, salad, chips, bars, cookies and drink available throughout the night. A silent auction will be held from 5-7pm and a live auction starts at 6:30 pm. There are numerous "big ticket" items and smaller items up for bidding. Some items include 30 round bales baled, a Valentines Day weekend at Grand Falls casino in a suite, a 2 night stay in a 5 or 6 bedroom "cabin" in the Black Hills (available before Memorial Day or after Labor Day) too many items to be listed. John plans to come home for the fundraiser while Susan remains in Ann Arbor with Kaden. Come out and enjoy a delicious meal, maybe win something in the auctions and show John, Susan and Kaden how much their home communities care about them and support them.
If you are unable to make it to the fundraiser on February 9th but would like to make a donation to help offset some of the VandenBergs expenses checks may be sent to the American Reformed Church in Luverne. Stipulate on the check that it is for the VandenBerg fundraiser and the money will be sent to John and Susan.