Family Grateful for Second Chance for Baby Girl

"Kaidence was the first one in Utah to use it," she said. The pump was to help the infant until she became healthier or another heart was found for her.

Everything was going well, until the right side of her heart started failing in December.

The Stephensons knew they had two options: Hook a pump to the right side of the heart or hope for a heart transplant.

Now as they prepare for Christmas, the Stephensons can only talk about how grateful they are to have their only daughter home with their sons this year, even though medical bills keep piling up.

"We have great insurance," Shauntelle Stephenson said. "But a transplant is a financial obligation that never ends. We pay $600 a month in co-pay for her anti-rejection medication. Without insurance it would cost us $10,000 a month."

Kaidence is at the age where she's not too sure what Christmas is all about, her parents said. Hanging up high in the tree is an ornament that someday will be special to her.

The silver heart with a red-jeweled heart in the center is engraved with 2007 and for now, it is a special ornament for her parents.

Kaidence does like the lights on the tree and enjoys candy canes. Her family is not attending as many Christmas events as they have in the past in order to protect the tiny girl from cold and flu viruses that could easily kill her.

They have gone to church and school Christmas parties, because they want to show others how well she is doing.

But the downside is they worry.

"Every time someone coughs you're looking over your shoulder, trying to keep her away," Mike Stephenson said. "But everyone else was a part of it, supporting us and encouraging us with all their prayers."

Kaidence, who likes to play cars with her 4-year-old brother, has to wear a mask when she does go out. A sign on the door asks visitors to stay away if they have a cough, runny nose or have been around anyone who is ill.

And there is always the worry that her body will reject the gift inside her chest.

"We live every moment the best we can," Mike Stephenson said. "We'll face that stuff if and when it comes. We don't focus on that. We just enjoy every second we got with her."

"We've been so blessed, we can't complain," Shauntelle Stephenson said. "This girl has a purpose."

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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