3 children in Mormon family face heart problems, featured on 'Dateline'

Published: Thursday, June 6 2013 11:45 a.m. MDT

Bingham family

Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

They say that lightning doesn't strike twice, but for the Bingham family, it has struck three times. Three children out of the five born to Oregon residents Jason and Stacy Bingham have already experienced serious heart problems, and the other two are showing markers, according to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

The Latter-day Saint family's heart journey began in 2006, when their oldest daughter, Sierra, then 6, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. As her condition quickly worsened, she was placed on the transplant list and soon after received a new heart. While checkups, biopsies and tests have to be a regular part of life from now on, the Binghams felt relief at the time.

Jason and Stacy Bingham started a blog in 2007, where they write about their children and show photos of family outings and birthday parties. They also talk about their doctor's appointments, update family and friends on biopsy and echocardiogram results, and share their journey.

It was just six years after Sierra's diagnosis that the Binghams posted on their blog about their third child, Lindsey: "She was showing signs of congestive heart failure. … We took her into the ER on May 20, 2012, where they took a chest X-ray and diagnosed her with dilated cardiomyopathy. … She has been placed on the transplant list and the wait is currently 2-4 months," her father wrote on June 16, 2012.

Lindsey was diagnosed with the same disease as her older sister. And the Binghams found themselves in the same hospital, going through a similar experience. Having gone through this before, Sierra offered her sister some advice.

"Be brave. Hold the nurse's hand and ask what are they going to do next," Jason and Stacy Bingham wrote on their blog.

Throughout the procedures, tests, waiting and wondering, the Binghams remained hopeful.

"She was given a blessing that Sunday and headed off on her adventure on May 21st. … The Lord blessed Sierra with a miracle, he can do it agin," her father wrote.

Lindsey, too, was finally able to get a transplant after waiting seven painful months, but just like her sister, there is always the possibility that their bodies will reject their new hearts. At the time Lindsey was getting her new heart, Sierra's body was rejecting her transplant. After trying different treatment methods, doctors were able to get Sierra's body to stop attacking the new heart, according to "Today."

Because finding a donor took longer for Lindsey, she had to be hooked up to a Berlin Heart. On June 30, 2012, while the mechanical support kept Lindsey alive, her youngest brother, Gage, 3, was checked in, just down the hall, with a complete heart block. Gage's enlarged heart would eventually require a pacemaker to help regulate his heartbeat.

Jason Bingham wrote on the family blog, "Basically, he has major heart problems that are probably caused by his cardimyopathy. … In my opinion, we are going down the same route as Sierra and Lindsey, mark my words. What a nightmare."

Jason later said in his post, "Ya know, I always thought that the Sierra events six years ago [were] the 'end' of that trial. Maybe that was preparing us for something bigger."

With all their family's medical costs, and without the Binghams asking, friends and family have reached out to help wherever they can. One friend, Kevin Bradford, created and maintains a site where donations can be made to the family to help with their constantly growing treatment costs.

Although the Binghams tend to be private, their story has spread and even caught the attention of "Dateline." For a year, cameras followed the family's experiences. On June 5, Keith Morrison of "Dateline" told the Binghams' story in his segment "Against All Odds."

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