GREAT FALLS — If you met six-year-old Aiden Caldwell on the street, you would not think he was much different from any other six-year-old in Montana.
He likes to hunt, ride horses, and wants to learn how to ride a dirt bike (a thought that makes his mother nervous). He is a twin, and in total has four siblings.
While he might seem no different, Aiden has gone through a lot more than most six-year-olds will ever experience.
“When we were pregnant with the twins was when we found out that Aiden was very special,” Katie Caldwell, Aiden’s mother said, “… That he was born without half a heart.”
Aiden has Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which means the left side of his heart is nonfunctional. The CDC estimates that more than 1000 babies in the U.S. are born with the condition each year. When he was only three days old, Aiden had open heart surgery. Four months later, he had to go through another heart surgery. Now, he’s looking at one more big procedure in Seattle, Washington.
“With this condition, there isn’t a facility in Montana that is able to handle his condition, because it’s actually one of the most severe heart conditions that you can have,” Katie said, “And so every time he’s due for a surgery we move to Seattle for the time of his procedures and all that.”
Moving for a procedure is a financial strain, from finding a house to live in to not being able to work while gone. Thankfully, the Caldwell family has seen nothing but support.
“We’ve been so blessed, there’s been so many people that’ve reached out to us and tried to encourage us and bless us through this time,” Brandon Caldwell, Aiden’s father said, “It’s been awesome to see the amount of outpouring and support that we’ve gotten from the community, from friends and family around. So that’s been huge for us.”
Despite it all, Aiden lives his life like a six-year-old should, refusing to be stopped by his heart. He wants to get a pony when the procedure is complete, and is looking forward to going coyote hunting upon his return home.
“He has really taught us that life is a blessing, and no matter what you’re facing, you can enjoy it,” Katie said.
The Caldwells are a tight-knit family that has only grown stronger together through Aiden’s heart condition. They have learned how to rely and be there for each other, and the Seattle commotion is no different.
“They all kind of understand, and we’ve had a lot of talks with them about that,” Brandon said, “That we can’t control the things that happen to us, but we can definitely help each other out when stuff happens, and that’s what family is for.”
The Caldwells have set up a GoFundMe page, where they are trying to raise money to help pay for what they hope is their final medical trip to Seattle. Click here if you would like to donate.
Thanks to the good people of Great Falls, donations have already started coming in.
“We just, we really love Great Falls,” Katie said, “It’s been home to both of us, and we don’t think that there is a better place to raise kids.”
The Caldwells leave for Seattle on December 10th, and and Aiden’s surgery is on the 13th.