Break­fast fundraiser for Amish tot’s care

Three-year-old boy still faces hur­dles

The Buffalo News - - LIFE&ARTS - By Char­ity Vo­gel

It’s been al­most a year since lit­tle Amos Hert­zler came home from a hospi­tal in Bos­ton, Mass.

But the Amish baby born with Down syn­drome and se­ri­ous med­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions – in­clud­ing an esoph­a­gus that does not con­nect to his stomach – is still strug­gling. That’s why his fam­ily and his com­mu­nity are ral­ly­ing once again to help pay his med­i­cal ex­penses.

A pancake break­fast is sched­uled from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. next Satur­day in the Otto Fire Hall on Jark Road. Break­fast foods will be served. There also will be a bake sale, quilt and craft sale, and silent auc­tion of a set of new oak chairs made by the Hert­zler fam­ily. No ad­mis­sion fee will be charged, but do­na­tions to­ward Amos’ care will be ac­cepted.

The event is be­ing held be­cause, like many tra­di­tional Amish, the Hert­zlers don’t have med­i­cal in­sur­ance and pay for their hospi­tal care when needed.

“It’s to help with the med­i­cal bills,” said Aaron Hert­zler, the litle boy’s fa­ther. “It’s for Amos.”

Amos, now 3, had com­pli­cated med­i­cal pro­ce­dures dur­ing a 15­month pe­riod he spent in Bos­ton, which ended last spring. Dur­ing that time, doc­tors tried to con­nect his stomach to his esoph­a­gus. But the process ul­ti­mately proved un­suc­cess­ful – and Amos fi­nally came home, on a feed­ing tube.

Now, Amos still needs a tube to eat, his fa­ther said.

“He’s do­ing fairly well,” said Hert­zler, a fur­ni­ture­maker in Mans­field who, with his wife, Katieann, has one other son. “He gets sick pretty easy. We’ve had to keep him home most of the win­ter.”

Amos was born with Down syn­drome and also with a rare con­di­tion called esophageal atre­sia, which means his stomach is not con­nected to his esoph­a­gus. The con­di­tion af­fects roughly 1 in 4,000 chil­dren. The Buf­falo News has been fol­low­ing the story of Amos since the fall of 2011, a year af­ter he was born in the out­ly­ing ru­ral re­gions of Cat­ta­rau­gus County.

Hert­zler said his son is grow­ing well, de­spite his med­i­cal prob­lems.

Over the past two years, Amos un­der­went pro­ce­dures at the Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal in Bos­ton. He came home in April of last year.

“He’s gain­ing weight. He’s get­ting

stronger,” said Aaron Hert­zler. “He’s get­ting close to stand­ing on his own with­out help.”

Amos’ con­tin­u­ing care costs the fam­ily a lot of money, his fa­ther said. The fam­ily has had to travel to Bos­ton and other cities – by Am­trak or be­ing driven in a car by a non-Amish friend, since tra­di­tional Amish don’t drive – nu­mer­ous times in the past year for fol­low-up care, Aaron Hert­zler said.

“The for­mula he uses is very ex­pen­sive. The feed­ing tube changes are ex­pen­sive,” said Hert­zler. “It all adds up.”

The fam­ily re­al­izes that Amos will likely need to have more surgery or med­i­cal in­ter­ven­tions down the road, to try to con­nect his esoph­a­gus, Aaron Hert­zler said. But, he said, they are not plan­ning to do that now.

“Surgery is some­thing we’ll prob­a­bly have to do at some point,” Amos’ fa­ther said. “But not now.”

Hert­zler said his son was “re­ally well” last sum­mer, af­ter com­ing home from Bos­ton, but has been hav­ing more trou­ble in re­cent months. Over­all, though, Amos continues to be an up­beat lit­tle boy, his fa­ther said.

“He’s a happy lit­tle guy,” Hert­zler said. “For the most part, he doesn’t com­plain much.”

Aaron Hert­zler said the do­na­tions and com­mu­nity sup­port they have re­ceived have played a role in get­ting the fam­ily through this time.

“We are thank­ful for all the help,” Hert­zler s… aid.

Foods at the Amish fundrais­ing break­fast will in­clude pan­cakes and maple syrup, eggs and cof­fee, and Amish-made dough­nuts. The Otto Fire Hall is at 9199 Jark Road in Otto, at the in­ter­sec­tion of Jark Road and Otto-East Otto Road (Route 12). The fam­ily also continues to main­tain the “Hert­zler Hospi­tal Fund” at Cat­ta­rau­gus County Bank in Lit­tle Val­ley.

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