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Submitted photos DJ and Crystal DuBois share a happy moment with baby Brody, still in the hospital, 13 days after his birth. Brody was born with congenital heart disease and pulmonary arterial hypertension.

For this baby, it's been all about heart and hospitals

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Crystal DuBois said after 12 draining hours of labor, it was a shock to have her nine-pound son whisked away soon after delivery, before she could hold him.

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"It's not fun to be left in a hospital without your baby," she said of the Oct. 26, 2010, birth of Brody DuBois.

Shortly after being born and unable to breathe on his own, Brody was airlifted from Hudson Hospital to Children's Hospital in St. Paul. Soon after he was transferred to the more specialized Children's Hospital in Minneapolis.

Crystal said Brody's first heart operation was to correct a "narrowing of the aorta."

Brody had a second open-heart surgery Dec. 8. All told, Crystal said Brody has had nine or 10 operations -- it's hard to keep count. One was to put back a feeding tube in his stomach.

Brody is now just over four months old. He has congenital heart disease. Crystal says he will likely need another heart operation within a year.

"We don't know the outlook," she said. "He may need surgeries for the rest of his life."

Brody has been on and off life support. He's breathing on his own again but, while he's grown some, hasn't gained weight since birth.

That's still a concern and another reason why he remains hospitalized.

Crystal (Simonson), a 2000 River Falls High School graduate, says her pregnancy was perfectly normal.

"There were no complications," she said. "The problems started as soon as Brody was born with his breathing."

This is Crystal and DJ DuBois' second child. Their daughter Riley, 3 1/2, is healthy.

DJ, a 1998 River Falls High School graduate, is an ironworker in the Twin Cities. He's worked on bridges, and the building of new stadiums for the Minnesota Twins and football Minnesota Gophers.

After running out of maternity leave time, Crystal has quit her job as a St. Croix County social worker to be with Brody.

"We're getting used to this," she says, but adds: "There are days and moments when it's hard."

Medical expenses are soaring at the same time that Crystal's income has dropped.

Health insurance won't cover all the costs, all the specialists, all the therapies, all the surgeries -- in the past, nor in the years to come.

"In Brody's case, it's literally taken a village to keep him alive," Crystal says.

How can you help the DuBois family of River Falls?

  • A special fund called "Let's Leap for Brody" at WESTconsin Credit Union. Mail checks to WESTconsin Credit Union/P.O. Box 308/River Falls, WI 54022.
  • A Partner Euchre Tournament at River Falls Moose Lodge. Registration is 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Saturday, March 26. Play begins at 12:30 p.m. Contact Ellen Kusilek at 715-760-2034 or ellenkusilek@live.com.
  • Bake sales at various local churches, including Assembly of God and First Covenant.
  • Saturday, May 14, a big fundraising day at Kilkarney Hills Golf Club, with a golf tournament, kids carnival, bingo, meat and prize drawings, raffle, silent auction, and live music at night by John and Dave with Triggerhappy and the R-County Gals.

Said Crystal: "We're so appreciative of the community's support and prayers. It's been a real tough journey, but we are still pleased that God chose Brody for us."

Crystal's aunt, Pam Kusilek, agreed, saying that religious conviction sustains this family: "Crystal has strong faith in the Lord's healing and purpose for Brody. DJ, with guitar in hand, sings to God for healing of his 'little man.' Riley prays, 'Jesus, heal Brody's tiny heart and whole body so he can play with his toys.'"

For more on the Dubois family and Brody, click here www.caringbridge.org/visit/babydubois/a>

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Phil Pfuehler
Phil Pfuehler has been editor of the River Falls Journal since 1991.
(715) 426-1050
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