Baby Castan Schisel was born May 21, 2013, but with a rare heart defect that affects just 900 babies a year in the United States.
“They just found out that his left side was a little smaller than the right,” Ron Schisel, Castan’s dad, said. “He explained to us that it was hypoplastic left heart.”
Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is when the left side isn’t strong enough to pump blood, causing the right side of the heart to overwork.
“It’s like runnin’ on a treadmill for him,” Ron Schisel said. “He’s constantly on morphine because his heart can’t take the digesting. He’s still on a ventilator breathing tubes.”
This defect used to be terminal for babies, however the Schisels have a hope for Castan, one that would be hard for any parent to sustain.
“My wife has been down there (Milwaukee) for 72 days,” Ron Schisel said.
Waiting for the heart transplant for Baby Castan weighs on Ron and his wife Marlena and their three daughters as the community rushes to keep spirits pumping.
Castan’s aunt Shelly Schisel built a website with photos and videos for people to post comments and donate, and Castan’s story has spread across the state.
“It’s so nice to be able to read all the people,” Shelly said. “Some of them we’ve never heard of them in our life.”
The Schisel’s loyal staff puts extra time in at the bar they own, Smitty’s Bar and Grill, plus the extra yard for Castan.
“We want to bring awareness to the community that we’re worried about a little fella,” Ellen Doucette, bar manager and family friend, said. “It’s his heart that needs the assistance.”
They’ve sold more than 2,000 hearts for Castan along with booties, ribbons and pools.
“I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t here to support them,” Doucette said.
People who don’t even know the Schisels like Carol Vance are pulling for the little fighter. Her Mid Town Convenience Store is selling hearts faster than they can get them to customers.
“They’re (The Schisels) always helping people out,” Vance said. “So now it’s our turn to help them.”
Castan will wait on the organ donation list for his turn at a second chance for a new life.
“We’ve been there two and a half months, he’s never seen his bedroom,” Ron Schisel said. “When that beeper goes up, gas is filled up. We’re gone.”
Now the family waits patiently for their turn to do one thing every newborn parent hopes for: to hold and protect their baby and keep joy, promise and prayer alive in their family.
Castan’s benefit is set for Saturday at Smitty’s Bar and Grill in Antigo. Starting at 2 p.m., there will be prizes, food, music and more rallying to raise funds for Baby Castan.
To donate, visit www.youcaring.com, then search “Heart beats for Castan.”