ADRIAN, M.N. (KELO) — As parents we all want what’s best for our children; a good education, a good paying job and most of all to be healthy.
None of those things are possible right now for a young Sioux Falls girl, but her parents are doing whatever they can; even going the extra mile to try and give her something.
“She was born with a traumatic brain injury,” Andy Heitkamp said.
Four-year-old Tillie Heitkamp is not your typical four-year-old girl. She struggles daily.
A traumatic brain injury at birth is only part of her physical problems.
After spending three weeks in the NICU, Tillie went on to develop cerebral palsy, which made things even more complicated.
“It’s probably one of the most aggressive forms of CP; very severe, you know, she can’t use any of her limbs, she can’t walk, sit, talk, crawl; anything independently,” Alexa Heitkamp said.
Alexa and Andy Heitkamp want to do whatever they can to give Tillie some sort of independence.
But as of right now, there’s little doctors can do for her; at least here in the United States.
So in January, the Heitkamps will be flying to Monterrey, Mexico to get Tillie special treatment.
“It’s not experimental, they’ve been doing it for a while in Mexico, it’s not FDA-approved in the United States yet,” Andy said.
It’s a medical procedure called Neurocytonix.
Tillie will lay down in something similar to this for an hour each day throughout the month of January.
“It will try and repair or rejuvenate the damaged brain cells or injured brain cells, kind of get those start talking to the rest of the brain, again,” Andy said.
“I really liked this because it’s non-invasive, no surgery, it’s drug-free, there’s no side effects to it,” Alexa said.
Both Alexa and Andy say it’s worth a shot because they have no other options.
“She does attend eight different therapies throughout the week, but it only shows mild progression; she still isn’t able to do anything independently, so,” Alexa said.
The procedure is expensive though, $55,000 and that does not include travel, lodging, or meals.
The Heitkamps say this treatment has shown signs of success in about 50 other kids with similar medical conditions.
“Everyone of those kids who got the treatment got something out of it, whether it be eating on their own, they are getting their motor skills back,” Andy said.
That’s all they are praying for; just something.
“Um, just to eat or sit, walk, anything she can, um,” Alexa said.
Anything to give her more than what she has now.
“It’s kind of to the point we got to try something,” Andy said. “If we get something out of it, it’ll be worth it just to get her a little bit better quality of life, that’s what we are shooting for.”
There’s going to be a big fundraiser in Adrian, Minnesota on November 25th at the high school to help the Heitkamps pay for their trip and Tillie’s medical procedure, because they are not covered by insurance.
Plus there’s a gofundme page to help