Cora Bosshamer

Cora Bosshamer was up and playing just two days after her open heart surgery in March.

KEARNEY — When Cora Bosshamer was born March 30, 2016, she was a healthy little girl. All that changed on Nov. 17, 2017, when she came down with a double respiratory infection. With her lungs full of fluid and her condition failing, she was taken by ambulance from her pediatrician’s office at Kearney Clinic across the street to CHI Health Good Samaritan.

“She was gray,” her mother Crystal Bosshamer said. “The oxygen meter was in the 60s. Doctors get frantic when it’s under 90.” Doctors gave her oxygen, but the meter refused to budge. Doctors were concerned. When they heard a heart murmur, they ordered her to be transferred to Children’s Hospital in Omaha.

Bad weather that night prevented the AirCare helicopter from flying, so Children’s sent a critical care transport plane and a flight crew of six to transport her to Omaha. However, the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s had no beds, so Cora was hospitalized at Nebraska Medicine for three days. Doctors put a tube down her throat so she could breathe.

Crystal and her husband Reggie hurried to Omaha. They stayed at Rainbow House, which provides free lodging for families of medical patients.

“Cora kept declining, but they couldn’t figure out why. We thought we were going to lose her,” Crystal said.

Soon after Cora was transfered back to Children’s, doctors diagnosed her problem. She had a leaky heart valve and a hole in her heart. She needed open-heart surgery. First, though, she had to heal from her respiratory infections.

The family brought her home for Christmas and fed her through a feeding tube for the next five months. “She was so fragile. She had to relearn how to talk, play and sit up,” Crystal said. Cora had yet another respiratory infection early in 2018, which delayed the heart catheterization that was needed before surgery in order to focus on her condition. When the catheterization finally took place Feb. 26, it revealed a hole in her heart that was a half-inch wide.

“The right side of her heart was triple the size it should have been. Her heart had been working so hard for 18 months that when she got that bad infection, her heart said, ‘I’m done,’” Crystal said.

Dr. Ali Ibrahimiye, a cardiothoracic surgeon, performed open heart surgery on Cora March 13. Two days later, she was up dancing. “She’s been thriving ever since,” Crystal said. She darts around like a typical toddler, turning lights off and on, playing in the dog dish and trying to keep up with her siblings Blake, 8, and sister Ali, 5.

“We thought we had a perfectly healthy little baby. Then this happened,” Crystal said. “All the doctors and therapists have been so wonderful. We were scared and nervous, but the medical people knew what to do.”

maryjane.skala@kearneyhub.com