Lincoln Reavis wants to go outside and run and play with his siblings like a normal 12-year-old boy.
This is currently not a possibility for him due to a serious heart condition that causes him to be winded climbing a flight of stairs or walking out to the mailbox.
“When Lincoln was 5 his big brother was already participating in Scouts,” said Mitzi Reavis, Lincoln’s mother. “Every year they have to have forms filled out for scouts and even though Lincoln wasn’t old enough to join Scouts, yet I decided to go ahead and take him too to get him on the same rotation as the others. That’s when they heard a super loud murmur that had never been heard before.”
Lincoln was diagnosed with a sub aortic membrane that had to be surgically removed through open-heart surgery at the age of 6. Mitzi said they also made aware then that one of Lincoln’s heart valves may need further surgery in the future.
So they waited. In November last year they received the news they were dreading. Without surgery Lincoln’s heart would give out in one to two years.
“We’re to the point now where the left ventricle has tightened, and so his internal blood pressure is 200,” Mitzi said. “Lincoln looks great, but unfortunately he has a serious heart condition.”
Once again they are faced with the intense stress of their child going under for another open-heart surgery and the financial and emotional burden it causes their family.
“We’re going to Boston April 20,” Mitzi said. “On Monday we go in for pre-op, on Tuesday he has cardiac catheterization diagnostics to make sure what they’re seeing and the pressure, and on Wednesday he’ll have surgery. He’ll be in the hospital for a week after surgery recovering, and then they want us to wait a week for follow-up.”
The family has four other children, Grant, 14; Anna, 8; Harrison, 5; and Kate, 1. Mitzi and her husband Jacob have to leave their other children for three weeks to be by their son’s side.
“It can be all consuming,” Mitzi said. “A lot goes into preparing traveling there and arranging to stay there for three weeks and making sure our kids are taken care of while we’re gone.”
Mitzi and Jacob’s parents are coming into town to stay with their other children while they are gone. Their pastor and Jacob’s brother will be traveling to Boston as a support system for the family.
The financial burden of the surgery is massive for the family. Mitzi said they already face a large pile of medical bills from Lincoln’s regular check-up visits.
Their three-week trip for surgery will set the family back more than $600 for boarding at the patient family housing provided by the hospital, $1,600 in plane fare, approximately $300 in cab fare to travel once they arrive and approximately $1,500 for food. These costs do not include insurance deductibles and medical bills not covered by their insurance.
“There are expenses above that, because I’m out of work and I don’t have vacation or sick time because I’m part time,” Mitzi said. “My husband has some vacation time at his work, but if you’re not home and you’re not working you’re not only not bringing income, you are (also) spending it.”
Mitzi said that the family has applied for Medicaid, but their annual income puts them just above the qualifying line.
“We do qualify for NC Choice, but when you have that you have to drop your health insurance. And if we drop insurance on Lincoln and then we pull him back on for whatever reason then they can gouge you on the prices, because he was dropped and not laterally transferred,” Mitzi said.
She said that each year the family has a $5,000 deductible, which they always meet. Their insurance covers their expenses with an 80/20 split.
There is the chance that Lincoln will have to face more surgery in the future due to the effect that puberty will have on his growing body and his heart.
“When they go through puberty the valves calcify. After he goes through puberty this may have to be addressed once more because of the metabolic demands of puberty,” Mitzi said. “There is a possibility that he may need a pacemaker, but we hope it won’t come to that.”
Despite the challenges, the family has a very positive outlook on Lincoln’s upcoming surgery, and they feel confident that this will be just what he needs to live the life he deserves.
Lincoln said that he’s not afraid of surgery. However, he’s just ready to be in recovery and back at home.
“I’m not nervous,” Lincoln said. “I just want to be done with it. I want to come home and play my Pokemon video game. I just hope that this surgery makes me better, and that I’ll be done with surgery for good.”
Shady Grove Baptist Church has set up a fund to help the family with medical bills. Checks can be made to the church with a note to deposit in the Lincoln Reavis Fund. Checks can be mailed to the church at 3808 Center Rd., Boonville, NC 27011.
Those interested in helping may also go to any Wells Fargo and make a deposit into the Lincoln Reavis Donation Fund.
A fundraising group that calls itself Friends of Lincoln is also organizing a benefit at Boonville Elementary School multi-purpose room on April 13. There will be a rook tournament and bingo. The cost is $40 per team.
There will also be hot dogs, drinks and snacks for purchase. Food can be purchased starting at 6 p.m. and rook and bingo starts at 7 p.m. For more information about the event you can call David Casstevens at 468-2393.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.