Latest update as of Sep 05, 2023

  • August 13 Update

    They took Joey off the anesthesia at 4am, but he's still intubated because of some fluid buildup in the lungs. Mostly, it's been a very slow-motion arm-wrestling contest all day as he groggily tries to reach for his various tubes. (I'm winning.) We did see progress in his alertness! We got him to give a thumbs up, I got a head nod “yes” when I said I love you, and when asked if he loved me he gave a thumbs up and a head nod yes. There were tears today! 💗

    His kidneys took a hit during the surgery, which is extremely common in this type of surgery. So they ran dialysis last night and they did another round today to help jumpstart them. Joey has handled it well, but we don’t know yet the effects on his potassium level and fluid output. When the kidneys are stronger, we expect to see even more signs of alertness.

    August 13 Update

About this fundraiser

Joey was born with a congenital heart defect known as aortic stenosis. He has had 3 valve surgeries in his lifetime, the last being in 1993 when he had the Ross procedure done. Unrelated, he has some unknown syndrome that has left all doctors baffled, including those at Mayo Clinic and that has led to him going into cardiac arrest twice, the last being in November 2022. It took EMS nearly 8 and a half minutes of compressions to get a heart rhythm back. Based on the normal wear and tear coupled with these two trauma events, Joey now needs his 4th open heart surgery to replace his aortic valve and pulmonary valve. This is a challenging surgery and as such Joey’s doctors in Wichita and Kansas City referred him to Mayo Clinic in Rochester where we have found a surgeon willing and confident in his ability to operate. With that said, it will require another trip to Mayo where we will need to be able to stay for at least 2 weeks with surgery scheduled for August 11. That will be followed by another 4 weeks or so of follow up appointments and daily care. During this time our family will experience many unexpected expenses including flights to/from Rochester, lodging and meals for myself while Joey is hospitalized, and costs will continue at home. This time will also require me to be off work for an extended period to provide care and supervision as Joey heals. I will be able to use my paid days off from my teaching position but it will only cover the first couple weeks and I will be unable to work my casino job during this time, but I have no benefits to fall back on for that position. 

The last few years of medical expenses have led to me working multiple jobs and we are unfortunately at a point where I just can’t manage myself without asking for help. For those that know me personally, you know what a challenge this is for me, but when you have a family, you also know you do what you need to to make sure everyone is taken care of. If you feel inclined and are able, our family will forever be grateful to you for any support, including shares and spreading awareness. Thank you to our friends and family that have loved us through the last few years and continue to provide us so much strength when it seems like too much. We are so thankful. There really aren’t even words to describe what each of you mean to us. 

Fundraising team

Ashley Garten

Wichita, KS, USA


Julie Tracy

Team member