Family prepares for five year old's open heart surgery

CLIFTON, Colo. 5-year-old Caedmon Shepherd Dittrich shares his heart with his parents, five siblings and the world around him every day, but on December 27, he'll have to open it up to doctors in the operation room.

Caedmon Shepherd was born with critical aortic stenosis.

"What started as it's probably just a little heart murmur, it's no big deal turned into EKGs, a whole night of everybody coming into the room and then an echocardiogram," said his mother, Helenbeth Dittrich.

He had surgery as an infant to open up the aortic valve, but now, he's scheduled for open heart surgery at Children's Hospital in Denver to replace that valve with one from a cow.

"At this last heart appointment, the pressure and the leakage was far over 50% and kind of in a moderate to severe range where they needed to intervene," Helenbeth Dittrich said.

The family is planning on staying in an RV in the hospital parking lot as it is difficult to find accommodations for their large family.

"I'm really thankful that we're going to have the ability to stay close with him," said Caedmon Shepherd's father, Nick Dittrich. "Literally sleeping down in the parking lot and being able to take turns being up with him in his room."

Mended Little Hearts of Western Colorado has set up a fund at US Bank in Grand Junction. You can donate to the family by bringing a check to the bank with "Dittrich" in the memo.

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