By RORYE O’CONNOR
MT. VERNON — —
At only five years old, Mariah Anderson has already braved three open heart surgeries, and in late January, she will travel to Boston for her fourth.
Mariah’s mother, Missy Anderson, said Mariah was born with a tumor in her heart, and has had open heart surgeries at three days old, six months old, and two-and-a-half years old.
“We knew she had this tumor a month before she was born,” Missy said. “They were able to intervene, because they knew the issues when she was born.”
Mariah and her parents, Missy and Brian, will travel to Boston Children’s Hospital for her surgery, which is to take place late January or early February, Missy said. This surgery will remove the tumor and repair her pulmonary valve.
Mariah is the youngest of three in the family, with sister Macy, 12, and big brother Nicholas, 15.
Mariah’s first surgeries were at Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis, and her family says she would not have made it through her first year without the care of doctors and surgeons at that hospital.
Though Mariah can’t play sports due to her heart condition, she loves to be outdoors, her mom said.
“She likes to camp, to boat, she likes to fish,” she said. “Anything to do with being outside is what she likes to do.”
Missy said because of some of the precautions they have to take with her having a delicate immune system, Mariah doesn’t always get to “lead a normal life.”
“She goes to pre school,” she said. “The only precautions they take, if there’s a lot of sickness in her class, they will let me know so I can keep her out.”
In order to help cover the costs of Mariah’s surgeries and the costs for her and her parents to travel to Boston, friends and family are hosting a benefit from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at Bluford Grade School.
The benefit will be sponsored by the Illinois Education Association. Homemade chicken and dumplings and sloppy Joes will be served at the event, and the band Rollin’ Country will play all night, Missy said. A cake walk, raffle and silent auction will also be held.