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Hartselle Enquirer

Defying the odds

Child born four months premature celebrates first birthday

Special to the Enquirer

Little Elijah Steffen is what his family calls a miracle. Dec. 2, the baby boy celebrated his first birthday – a feat many wondered if he would accomplish. He was born weighing only 13 ounces and measuring 11 inches long. Elijah was born four months premature and was classified as a nano preemie.

His mother, Kelsey, battled pre-eclampsia for several weeks prior to his birth at 29 weeks and though she was willing to take on the risk even longer for the sake of her baby, the doctor wouldn’t allow her to push herself anymore, and they were rushed into an emergency c-section. After Elijah’s birth, she spent a few days in ICU and Elijah has been in the NICU, at three different hospitals ever since.

To say that his first year of Elijah’s life has been a roller coaster ride is an understatement. Multiple surgeries, doctors, diagnoses, feeding tubes, ventilators and now a G-Tube and Tracheostomy. This little miracle, with the strength of our Savior, has fought through all of these procedures and continues to defy the odds. And though it’s still going to be several weeks/months away, he is now beginning to battle through the steps needed for the long-awaited trip home.

For the past 12 months while Elijah has had his struggles, his parents have endured many of their own. The first hospital was a 40-minute drive from their home in Eva, and the most recent is an hour and 15 minutes away. John and Kelsey have done an awesome job balancing time with Elijah their daughter, school, work and family, but it comes at an exorbitant cost. They have been blessed to have found a way to have a large portion of the medical bills relieved, but there are many other costs that they have had to shoulder day-in and day-out. Things like missing a lot of work, fuel costs to and from the hospital, meals away from home, and wear-and-tear on their vehicles seem to be endless. And now there are new expenses to come, as when Elijah comes home, he will need special clothing, carrier, car seat, high chair, bed, monitoring devices, strollers, therapy devices and food – and the couple will miss more work as he will need 24-hour care.

The past year has been full of sleepless nights, worry, fear, anxiety, praise, thankfulness and the juggling of bills and expenses.

Because of their struggles, Elijiah’s grandfather, Jack Steffen, looked for a way he could help, so he has led a crowd-funding campaign with the help of GoFundMe to raise money for the family of four.

As of press time, 63 donors have raised $4,445 of $10,000 goal that will benefit the Steffen family as baby Elijah comes home in the coming weeks.

To make a donation, visit the GoFundMe page at https://gofund.me/be00757a

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