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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 15, 2010

Fund-raiser at East Berne firehouse
Slingerlands baby has life-saving heart surgery

By Anne Hayden

SLINGERLANDS — Kira Engel is undergoing high-risk heart surgery today, and her aunt has organized a benefit in East Berne to help her family cover the costs.

Kira is a 1-year-old who was born with a rare congenital heart defect. Her aunt, Marnie Warner, a member of the Berne Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, said Kira is an extremely happy baby, despite not being able to walk or play like other babies do, since her heart is so weak.

Warner said Kira’s parents, Melissa and Bill Engel, were hoping to put off Kira’s surgery — which will fix the imperfections in her heart and save her life. They wanted to wait a few years until she was stronger, but her condition deteriorated quickly last week.

The Engels, who live in Slingerlands, found out about Kira’s condition when Mrs. Engel was pregnant. Warner said Kira has been in and out of the hospital since she was born, and has visiting nurses at home. Mrs. Engel quit her job at a day-care center to stay home and take care of Kira, and Mr. Engel has taken a lot of time off from work to be with her.

The Engels’ insurance company is not covering the entire cost of the surgery, so Warner is hosting a benefit car wash and bake sale, at the East Berne firehouse, for the Engel family. Kira will have to remain in the hospital for four to six weeks after her surgery, and Mr. Engel has only one week off from work, so funds raised at the benefit will go toward the cost of covering the surgery, the hospital stay, medication, and helping Mr. Engel take extra days off from work to spend with his daughter.

“This is very hard for them. Kira is their whole life right now,” said Warner of her sister and brother-in-law.

The benefit, on April 24, will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Donations of any amount are encouraged. To donate without attending the benefit, call Marnie Warner at 698-4628.

“We are hoping the surgery will fix the problem for now,” Warner said. Kira may need more surgery in the future, but this one will be life-saving.”

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