Now that the election's over, three stories of young folk

September 13, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

As this is being written, voters are still casting ballots all over Washington County, so an editorial page analysis of the election won't come until later this week.

In the meantime, I've got a few updates about what's been happening to people I've written about previously. They include:

Alivia Koontz, a little girl from the Hagerstown area who was born with a rare heart defect. Alivia, who is not yet 3, just had her third surgery at the Nemours Cardiac Center in Delaware.

It was not the third of three originally scheduled, but an atrial septectomy, a procedure designed to reduce the pressure in her lungs, one of which is smaller than normal.

The surgery went off as scheduled, but after the 3 1/2-hour procedure, she spent a restless night and didn't like it when she awoke and couldn't see her mother and father - Angela and Jimmy Koontz.


Alivia remained at the hospital and on Aug. 13, she developed a fever and her heart started to race. Tests followed and her stitches came out. But things went well and she was able to come home on Aug. 16.

It turned out to be a brief stay. On Aug. 20, Alivia returned to Delaware because of an infection in her incision. Doctors weren't immediately sure whether they would have to operate again to trim out infected portions.

That didn't happen and she got to attend a concert by her favorite musicians, The Wiggles. (If you've never heard of them, you're probably past the child-rearing stage of life.)

Now she'll wait six to nine months before another catheterization to determine how well this last procedure worked.

Her mother acknowledges that the latest series of events was "a little scary," but said that Alivia is now doing well.

She and her father participated in the American Heart Walk in Adams County, Pa., this past Sunday, although Alivia rode in her wagon more than she walked.

In e-mail updates from Alivia's relatives, all the family asks for is your prayers. But they need cash to help pay medical bills.

Please consider sending a check in care of the Shiloh United Methodist Church, 19731 Shiloh Church Road, Hagerstown, MD 21742.

Devin Fales, the Keedysville youth who is scheduled to go to the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital for a stem-cell transplant to combat Fanconi anemia, has had a setback, according to his mother, Crystal Fales.

His temperature rose to 103, she said, putting his trip off for about two weeks.

Once he has the procedure, he will be in the hospital for four to six weeks, then remain within 30 minutes of the facilitiy for three to four months, so his condition can be monitored.

Mrs. Fales has had to quit her job and the family will have to sell its house, in part because when Devin returns, he will need a special hypoallergenic living space to ward of mold- and fungus-based infections.

If you can help them, you may go to any branch of Hagerstown Trust and contribute to the First Hose of Boonsboro/Devin Fales Benefit Account, No. 155007179.

Hagerstown Police Office Brett McKoy, who is now stationed at South Hagerstown High School, passed along a nice bit of good news recently.

During the Aug. 31 lunch shift, McKoy said, he was approached by a young man named Octavian Burnett. The youth explained that he had put $1 in a machine to get one sports drink, but three popped out instead. He wanted to know how he could return the other two bottles, McKoy said.

"This may seem insignificant in the scheme of things, but someone in Octavian's life has taught him the importance of honesty. It is nice to know that morals and high standards are still being taught at home. So thanks to them and him," McKoy said.

And thanks to Officer McKoy for passing this story along.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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