This post is sponsored by UHCCF to promote their medical grants program. All opinions are my own.
Becoming the parent of a child with special needs is a great blessing, but sometimes it comes with great risk. My daughter was born with a rare form of Down syndrome, but what I didn’t know for the first month was that this condition comes with a high chance of heart defects. Without help, like a medical grant or a good support system, that was a scary discovery!
I remember clearly when we learned about Amelia’s heart problems. She was just a few weeks old, and we had driven from the Poconos in Pennsylvania to Livingston, N.J. to visit a recommended developmental pediatrician. Amelia was no bigger than a loaf of bread at the time, but so precious.
We had only found out a few weeks before that she had Mosaic Down syndrome and had learned, with that, she might have the risk of a heart defect, a higher chance of thyroid problems and a higher risk of leukemia, as well as allergies. I’ve since learned that she has the MTHFR gene mutation, as is the case with nearly all people who have Down syndrome.
The Tiny Hole That Scared Us Big Time
Her regular pediatrician did not notice anything wrong with her tiny heart, but recommended the doctor in New Jersey. So my husband and I bundled up our bundle of joy and made the journey.
In a large, pristine office, the doctor put my good-natured baby on a table and pulled out her stethoscope. We all held our breath as she spent several minutes listening to her heart and chest.
“I believe she has a hole in her heart.”
My heart sank to my feet. “But our pediatrician didn’t hear a thing.”
“No, she probably wouldn’t have. It’s tiny. I can barely hear it. I only caught it because I’ve been doing this a long time. It’s extremely faint, but we need to give her an EKG and MRI.
Thus began our journey of monitoring Amelia’s heart, which continues to this day. As a first time mom, I was terrified. I kept detailed notes of when she fed and how much. Naturally, I spent hours researching congenital heart failure, what would be involved should she need heart surgery, and studying her very closely to make sure she did not turn blue, a sign that something was very wrong with her heart.
Vigilant Mama, Happy Child
I was the very definition of a mother hen. Amelia had slept through the night (6 or more hours) by the age of 4 weeks, but I was up every few hours making sure she was still breathing. If she even looked a little pale, I’d ask my husband if he thought she was blue. (I’m pretty sure he swapped out all the light bulbs to make sure they were emitting YELLOW light to stop my insanity.) If she had an ounce less than normal when feeding, I’d freak out. Poor kid spit up a lot but was well fed.
At our first EKG visit, I remember my poor baby stuck on all those diodes. The only thing that made her cry was when we had to pull them off. Ugh. She was a trooper!
A few weeks later, the MRI showed that the hole had been naturally patched over. And hole #2 had stayed the size of a pinhole. As long it did, she’d be fine. If so, we’d need to monitor her every two years, and take precautions at the dentist and if she needed surgery.
The months went by, and despite our fears, nothing happened. Amelia grew strong, her little legs developing into the hefty thighs of a thriving baby. She smiled early and laughed before the milestone. It was then I knew that everything would be all right.
UHCCF Medical Grants Help Families in Need
Unfortunately, other families are not so lucky. I don’t know what we’d have done if Amelia had needed surgery, particularly that year the economy was bad and Chris took a significant pay cut. Medical expenses can be a drain on a family. Even with a good insurance plan, the extra money that you need to lay out to care for your child can be considerable. Medical grants can provide much needed relief!
That’s where UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) can help families. They have a medical grants application program designed to help those in need of financial assistance for a child’s medical expenses that are not fully covered by their commercial health insurance plan.
The financial burden can go beyond meeting your deductible or additional fees. Families may need to spend a lot of money out of their own pocket on commuting, take out meals, even hotel stays when a child is getting care at a facility that is not close to home. All of that adds stress on you and can distract you from properly taking care of your family.
UHCCF’s medical grants program is already working to help needy families. UHCCF has already awarded over 13,000 and aims to award a total of 20,000 grants by the year 2020. Not only that, but 88.9% of qualified, completed medical grants applications are approved! Applicants must be 16 years old or younger U.S. residents that receive care in the U.S. They also must have a commercial health plan. Adjusted Gross Income determines eligibility.
You Can Help Too!
Maybe you are one of the lucky ones, like our family, who haven’t had the need for medical intervention or a medical grant. Or perhaps your child has overcome a medical issue in the past. UHCCF always welcomes donations from others so they can give medical grants to families that are now in need. You can donate as an individual or as a corporation. UHCCF even lets you dedicate a donation to someone special.