Superman might be Harrison Green’s hero — but the 4-year-old boy from Waconia probably has little to no idea that many people think of him as a hero, too.
Harrison, the son of Chuck and Heather Green and younger brother of Jackson, was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a condition where the left side of the heart — including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve — is underdeveloped and as a result, the body doesn’t receive enough oxygenated blood.
Since 2008, Harrison has undergone multiple open-heart surgeries to help him survive. He had been doing fine but things took an unfortunate turn this summer.
“In the beginning of August, he was not feeling well,” explained Jill Bach, who is a nurse and family friend of the Greens. “They had him checked out twice (and he ended up) at Children’s in Minneapolis, where he had a sudden and unexpected cardiac arrest.”
As a result of the cardiac arrest, Harrison went on medication and mechanical life support for several days. Bach explained that eventually, Harrison was weaned off of the mechanical life support but still requires continuous IV medications for his heart.
After spending several weeks recuperating at Children’s, Harrison is now being treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester — where he is also waiting for a new heart.
“The effects of the cardiac arrest weakened his heart muscle to the point where the only way to get him out of the hospital and off those medications is through a heart transplant,” Bach explained. “At times, his condition fluctuates, and sometimes he needs more mechanical support. He is considered to be in critical but stable condition.”
Considered a “1A,” Harrison is at the top of the list to receive a heart transplant. The situation hasn’t been easy for the Greens but they are doing their best. Bach said either Heather or Chuck — or both of them — are by Harrison’s side 24 hours a day.
“They have not left his side since it began,” she said. “Heather is a model of patience and kindness and she’s so comforting to (Harrison). She is working hard to make his life as normal as possible, at least as normal as life can be in a hospital.”
With games, wagon rides and squirt gun fights, the Greens are making sure
their little boy is still able to enjoy some of the innocent pleasures of childhood. Another example is that Heather works with the hospital staff to occasionally provide Harrison with his favorite food, plain spaghetti noodles, even if he asks for them for breakfast.
“They’re trying to be normal parents for their 4-year-old boy,” Bach said. “You’d never know he’s a kid who’s had multiple surgeries. Harrison has a great smile and a fantastic personality. He’s not a complainer. He just has a fantastic spirit.”
An effort to help the family, Hearts for Harrison, has been created by neighbors and friends of the Greens who simply want to help the family with its medical bills and, perhaps more important, show emotional support during a time of need.
“We want them to know that it’s not just us in the neighborhood but the entire community is supporting them,” Bach said. “They’re kind of isolated in the hospital … we’re hoping they’ll draw strength and comfort knowing that everybody in the community is pulling for him.”
Hearts for Harrison has already resulted in the sale of T-shirts at Waconia volleyball matches, bracelets at Waconia football games, and fundraisers through Pizza Ranch and BIG Athletics, both located in Waconia. Citizens may have also seen cutout paper hearts around the community — those are part of Hearts for Harrison, too.
“The community and local businesses have really done a great job in supporting Hearts for Harrison,” said Mike Freeman, a family friend of the Greens.
The group invites the community to a Hearts for Harrison fundraiser at Hoppers Bar and Grill in Waconia from 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27.
The event includes a silent auction filled with sports items and other treasures donated by local businesses and citizens. Attendees are encouraged to dress up to participate in a costume contest and also enjoy live music by the Chris Hawkey Band (Hawkey is a well-known radio personality on sports radio station KFAN 100.3 FM).
Hoppers will donate 50 percent of the sales during the event to the Greens. Childcare is being offered by the Waconia Lakettes Dance Team at Bayview Elementary from 1 to 5 p.m. for $5 per child — proceeds will also benefit Hearts for Harrison.
Bach noted that the Greens have been overwhelmed — in a good way — with all of the support they’ve received over the past few months and they check a Facebook page — www.facebook.com/Hearts4Harrison — on a regular basis.
“They are grateful and appreciative of all the support,” she added.
“We need everybody to come on out,” Freeman said of the Hoppers event. “We love our neighbors and we love this kid. We have to help. It’s all about him.”
• If you’d like to make a donation to Hearts for Harrison, a fund has been set up at MidCountry Bank, 200 East Frontage Road, Waconia, MN 55387.