Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Jason and Stacy Bingham are living a double nightmare, watching hearts fail in both their son and daughter.

It's happened before for the couple, who live near Haines.

Different child, same diagnosis.

Lindsey Lou, 8, and Gage, 3, are now next door to each other at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.

Lindsey hasn't felt quite right for a while, but she got really sick in May.

"May 19, she woke up with a swollen face," Jason said. Her diagnosis: dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle that causes it to become enlarged.

It is the exact diagnosis the Binghams heard six years ago when their oldest daughter, Sierra, got sick. "It never crossed my mind," Jason said.

Sierra, now 12, was admitted to Lucile Packard in July 2006, and received a heart transplant that August.

Lindsey was hospitalized at Lucile Packard June 12, and her name went on the heart transplant list June 20. They're facing a three- to six-month wait.

"But anything can happen," he said.

They know this first-hand: Sierra was hours away from being put on mechanical support when news came of a donor heart.

Lindsey underwent open heart surgery Saturday to get a Berlin Heart, an external heart pump that bridges the time before a heart transplant.

And now her little brother, Gage, 3, is in a room next door. He was diagnosed with a complete heart block, and Sunday he received a pacemaker.

They are blogging daily - sometimes several times a day - about what is happening, posting updates and photos. The web address is www.jasonandstacybingham.blogspot.com.

The blog is a mix of medical reports and raw emotion.

On Saturday, Jason wrote: "I always thought that the Sierra events 6 years ago were the 'end' of that trial. Maybe that was preparing us for something bigger."

Earlier that day, Stacy posted about Lindsey's rough night, so reminiscent of Sierra's six years ago: "Who would have thought that I would be reliving the worst night of my life again."

Prior to having the Berlin Heart installed, Lindsey was getting sicker, and vomiting every hour.

"The stomach's the first (organ) to take the hit," Jason said.

With Lindsey experiencing the same heart troubles as Sierra, the rest of the Bingham children have been tested.

Megan, 10, and Hunter, 5, both have heart issues as well.

The doctors have no explanation, and Jason said they're now looking into environmental causes.

But right now, their focus is Lindsey and Gage.

The Binghams live in North Powder. Stacy is a registered nurse and Jason is an accountant.

For the past month, Stacy has been in California while Jason and the other kids traveled back and forth.

Sierra knows exactly what Lindsey is going through.

"She's amazing. She's the best one to have down there," Jason said. "They had the same nurses and the same doctors."

The Binghams are again staying in the Ronald McDonald House. Cards can be sent to: Lindsey Lou Bingham or Gage Bingham, Ronald McDonald House, 520 Sandhill Road MS201, Palo Alto, CA 94304.

(He said that care packages are appreciated, but the hospital rooms are too small to accommodate many gifts.)

Fundraisers are planned for the next months - the first is an auction Wednesday during the Haines Stampede. Organizers will auction a steer - multiple times, they hope - to raise money to help with medical bills.

Also, aluminum water bottles will be sold at the Shriner's team roping July 2 in Haines, the Haines Stampede July 3-4 and Haines parade July 4, wooden bat tournament in Baker City July 7-9, and the Huckleberry Festival July 28 in North Powder.

The bottles are $6 and will be engraved with the logo of each event.

An account has been set up in Lindsey's name at U.S. Bank, or donations can be sent to Lindsey Lou Heart Fund through Bingham, Bingham and Watt, 2055 Second St., Baker City, OR, 97814.