Superior family recognized for efforts in raising awareness of congenital heart defects

By KBJR News 1

February 7, 2014 Updated Feb 7, 2014 at 11:53 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com)--- From the outside little Ailee Underdahl looks just like any normal two year old.

"She's super fun and loving, and she's just such a joy," said Ailee's mother Jade.

When her mom Jade was just 23 weeks pregnant, doctors diagnosed Ailee with seven different congenital heart defects. Jade went into preterm labor at 26 weeks.

"They told me if she comes now, there's no chance. She's just not gonna make it and they just said she can handle being born 14 weeks early or she can most likely handle her heart defects, but she couldn't handle both," said Jade.

Luckily, the pregnancy went full term. Ailee underwent open heart surgery at just ten days old. She's had some heart arythmia issues since, and last summer had a pacemaker put in. Ailee will live her life with congenital heart defects, but her parents and doctors say she is doing better than they ever imagined. Now Jade has joined Lasting Imprints, a support group out of Northern Minnesota designed to raise awareness and inspire others to join in the fight against C-H-D

"Having women and families in general who just know that pain .Not everybody does, it's so wonderful to have that support system out there to help get you through that," said Jade.

She has been working to spread that awareness starting a support group for other families dealing with heart defects. Jade wrote a letter to Duluth Mayor Don Ness about her never ending and on going efforts to raise awareness of congenital heart effects. Mayor Ness responded proclaiming February 7 through the 14 Congenital Heart Defect Awareness week. It was a moment of pride for Jade's husband Casey.

"I can't tell you how proud of I am, and being in school full time and working and doing all this extra, lasting imprint stuff , getting involved and getting the word out there. Its amazing how much she can handle," said Casey Underdahl, Jade's husband and father to Ailee.

Ailee's strength continues to inspire the Underdahl's and is the reason they share their story.

"That's why I'm here that's why I'm doing this I want to be a voice for not only my child but for all the kids out there affected and their families. It's my passion," said Jade.

The family is holding an event Saturday to bring other heart families together. It will be from noon until 2 at the Duluth Children's Museum

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati