Niagara Gazette — Amarah Jeckovich is not even born yet and she's already facing big challenges.
Expected to be born in late May, Amarah will require three surgeries shortly after she is born to parents, Rachel and Tom Jeckovich, and little sister, Adrianna, 5, of Niagara Falls.
The baby has been diagnosed in utero with a congential heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Without a series of open heart surgeries within her first year, the disease would be fatal. With the surgeries, she has a good chance for survival but may experience chronic medical problems throughout her life.
"It's a pretty serious condition," said the baby's father, Tom. "The longest anyone has lived with the condition is 31 years. We're just hoping she can have the surgeries and have a normal childhood."
Family and friends decided to organize a fundraiser to help cope with medical expenses. The event is helping the baby's mother cope with the worry about Amarah. "It's actually helped to keep my mind off things," she said.
Grandmother Patricia Fitzpatrick says the young family is getting amazing support from the community, including a donation of a 51-inch plasma television from the Niacet Corp. where Tom works as a chemical operator.
"The generosity is just amazing," said Fitzpatrick, who works in retail services at Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown, where many staffers are also contributing to the event. "In this day and age when things are so tough for everybody, to see that people have rallied as they have, I couldn't be more pleased to live in this area."
The event is being held from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the VFW Post 917, 2435 Seneca Ave. The $20 admission includes dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. There will also be a bake sale, 50/50 raffle and basket auction.IF YOU GO WHAT: Heart 2 Heart Benefit for Amarah WHEN: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. today WHERE: VFW Post 917, 2435 Seneca Ave. MORE INFORMATION: Rachel Jeckovich at 990-4967