We are so excited to introduce this year's Running River Benefits beneficiary, Penelope Birgen. Keep an eye on our page the rest of the week for exciting announcements about all of our events and don't forget to share our posts, follow us on Instagram, and subscribe to our newsletter by texting RRB to 22828!! Penelope Sue Birgen is Leah and Jeff’s third baby. They also have two sons, ages 5 and 3. Penelope was born with three heart defects, significant lung damage, no spleen, and would eventually need GI surgery due to feeding and digestion difficulties. Penelope turned 1 on February 14, 2018 and she has already undergone 4 open heart surgeries, numerous cardiac catheterization procedures, extensive GI surgery, has been on ECMO three times, intubated for over a month, required blood transfusions, and countless x-rays, MRIs and CT scans. Most recently she has been recovering from meningitis which resulted in her flat lining and needing 35 minutes of CPR to revive her. While her family lives in Loveland, Colorado Penelope spent 156 days at Boston Children’s Hospital. Only recently (February 15, 2018) being transferred back to Colorado Children’s hospital via a private Medical Flight Team.
Penelope reaching the milestone of 1 year old was something many medical professionals believed she would not reach. She has spent over half her life in hospitals away from home so Jeff and Leah have needed to rely on help from family and friends to watch over their other two children so Leah could stay at Penelope’s bedside and Jeff could work. Leah had to leave her job and the family has needed to borrow money and take on credit card debt in order to continue to provide for the family and pay medical and prescription bills.
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