Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Lisa Britton

For the Baker City Herald

As Lindsey Lou Bingham awaits a heart transplant in California, communities in Eastern Oregon continue to show their support for the Bingham family.

An auction and taco feed fundraiser Saturday at the North Powder School helped with the Binghams' medical expenses.

"I'm so overwhelmed by the generosity," Stacy Bingham said.

Jeanette Thompson didn't have a final number of money raised this morning, but said the auction sold close to 200 items. With some items fetching hundreds of dollars, the total raised will likely be in the five-figure range.

"The donations were unbelievable," she said. "And the buyers to make it work - friends, neighbors, community, family. It was awesome."

Although Stacy said they would have loved to attend, Saturday's events,their priority is staying close to Lindsey, who was hospitalized June 12 at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto.

"June 12 was her last time outside," Stacy said during a phone interview Friday. "When we go for walks, we find a sunny window."

"The more she can be out of her room, the better she does," Stacy said.

Lindsey has dilated cardiomyopathy, the same condition of the heart that resulted in her older sister, Sierra, receiving a heart transplant six years ago.

Lindsey, 8, now relies on artificial support called a Berlin Heart to help her heart work.

To keep the family together, the Binghams have enrolled their school-age children in Palo Alto, where classes started last week. Sierra is in seventh grade, Megan is in sixth and Hunter is in kindergarten. Gage, 3, is still at home.

School in California is a bit different from home, where the kids attend North Powder Charter School.

Comparison: Sierra and Megan have 350 students in their grades.

North Powder has 280 students total in K-12.

"It's been a little crazy, and a little culture shock," Stacy said.

On the first day, "there was a sea of hundreds of bikes," she said.

She said registering was hard, facing the need for parent volunteers.

Their days are already stretched thin.

"The reality is we still have a child in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant," she said.

Lindsey also started school - grade 3 at Lucile Packard, where teachers consult with each patient's regular teacher back home so they keep on track with their studies.

The hospital school has eight kids total, Stacy said.

As for the parents, Jason returns home every two or three weeks to get caught up with his accounting work. Stacy is in the process of obtaining her California nursing license.

Her idea, if life allows, is to work one night a week or one day a month to keep her license active.

This California life is all temporary - they're just waiting for Lindsey to get a heart.

"We'll be home as soon as we possibly can," Stacy said.

After a transplant, it's about three months before the patient can return home.

As they wait, Lindsey must stay healthy to keep her 1A position on the transplant list.

Heart issues have been discovered with all five Bingham children, and results from genetic testing should be back in September.

But Stacy said there's only a 40-percent chance a gene will be found.

Gage now has a pacemaker to keep his heart in the right rhythm.

"He still sees the heart failure team," Stacy said. "(A pacemaker) doesn't reverse the disease, it just slows it."

In other words, chances are they will be faced with this wait for a new heart again, with another child.

And Sierra is still under close watch to keep her heart healthy - last week she had a 12-hour infusion aimed to help an antibody mediated rejection (high levels of antibodies in the blood).

The results will be evaluated after her annual biopsy next month.

The Binghams continue to post updates on their blog: www.jasonandstacybingham.blogspot.com.

Also, the website www.heartsforbinghams.com provides information about the family and a way to donate to the Lindsey Lou Heart Fund.