harper

HEARLTAND, Texas — It was news a Kaufman County couple had been preparing for but, came sooner than they had expected — their daughter would require a surgery that has never been performed to alleviate pressure and damage being done to her lungs brought on by unpredictable complications of previous procedures which relocated her aorta.

5-year-old Harper was born with several congenital heart defects, her mother, Candice Von Vogt tells inForney.com. Her first surgery came at only 7 weeks old with surgeons attempting to correct one of those defects by moving her aorta.

This procedure, however, created an unpredictable complication — as she grew, the opening to her left lung was now compressing to about 40%, causing her lower left lobe to collapse. During recent exams, doctors also discovered her descending aorta was being compressed.

Two years ago, Harper underwent surgery to lift her aorta off of her airway but, unfortunately Von Vogt says, it was unsuccessful.

Von Vogt says their family had expected Harper would need to undergo another surgery but, not for a few more years.

Harper is now scheduled for surgery on August 27, 2020, at Children's Medical Center in Dallas.

Plan A for the day of Harper's surgery is she undergo a procedure that has never been performed — a procedure created by Dr. Robert Jaquiss, the Division Director of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgery at Children's Health Dallas, and Dr. Charles Fraser, the Chief of Pediatric and Congenital Cardiothoracic Surgery at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas.

Plan B is a surgery that has only been performed six times in the United States. Should it come to Plan B, Von Vogt says this surgery has had positive results but, had not been performed on patients who have had previous work on their aorta, like Harper.

"We have always been told that Harper is a unique case, but now this will be a truly one of a kind surgery," she says. "Please keep her in your prayers."

Harper attended Pre-K at Crandall ISD's Barber Walker Elementary School last year. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and Harper being immunocompromised, Von Vogt says she will be doing homebound instruction this year.

Through it all, Von Vogt says Harper continues to dress-up as her favorite Disney princesses, sing, dance, and loves her dog, Sierra, and kitten, Sassy Cat.

With Von Vogt expected to be out of work for eight or more weeks, the family has begun a t-shirt campaign to raise funds to off-set some hospital-related expenses and during Harper's recovery. For those wishing to purchase a shirt from the Hope for Harper's Heart campaign, visit the fundraising page, here.

A GoFundMe page was also established, here.