Benefit planned to help family

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2002

Trever Benner may be only 2 years old, but he’s already undergone four surgeries in his short life.

Trever has a heart condition known as aortic valve stenosis, a condition where the valve is very small and the heart works harder to pump the blood through. He also suffers from Gardner’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes polyps and tumors. His father, Brad, age 31, also suffers from Gardner’s Syndrome, and has had eight surgeries, one to remove his large intestine because of polyps.

&uot;It started with my dad,&uot; Brad said. &uot;The further down the generations it gets, the faster and harder it hits. Trever was born with a lot of the conditions.&uot;

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Brad himself was 21 when his intestine was removed; his daughter, Stephanie, now 13, is also seeing the effects of the disease and is eventually going to have to have her large intestine removed, the family said.

Gardner’s Syndrome is extremely rare, Brad said, and there is no cure at this time. Originally, Brad had complained of continuous migraine headaches, hearing loss and leg and back pain. When looking out of the corner of his right eye, the eye would twitch and cause double vision. The doctor ordered an magnetic resonance image (MRI), which he underwent in Rochester, and a large brain tumor that was in the process of crushing his nerves in that area was discovered.

The nerve to his right ear was permanently damaged, and he has lost hearing in that ear. He went through a 12-hour surgery to remove the tumor, which he may have had since he was a young boy. The tumor could not be completely removed because of the risk of paralysis. About one year later, he had seven tumors removed from the incision and radiation treatment. Doctors then discovered the tumor was growing back.

This time, they tried Gamma Knife Surgery, another type of radiation. He has another tumor in the incision area, and is scheduled for another MRI. He suffers from headaches, numbness and pain in his right arm, and pain in his right eye. Brad is now on a trial medication. &uot;They don’t know how to control the tumors,&uot; he added.

Trever underwent an aortic balloon valvuoplasty at 2 weeks old in an attempt to correct his heart condition. However, doctors discovered that the procedure failed and he now has leakage and deterioration of the valve.

Eventually, Trever will have to have a mechanical valve to replace the deteriorating one, and that will have to be replaced as he and his heart grow.

&uot;So far, his heart is strong and we count our blessings and pray he continues to keep a strong heart and that it doesn’t get worse,&uot; his mother, Christine, said.

At about 3 months of age, the Benners noticed a protrusion of Trever’s ribcage. Doctors in Rochester found a tumor &045; a result of the Gardner’s Syndrome &045; that started on his ribcage and went down to his bladder. At 6 months of age, he had surgery to remove it, and two weeks later the incision became abscessed and broke open. He was hospitalized in Rochester for the infection.

Some four months later, the tumor started growing back. In June of this year, doctors decided to do chemotherapy to shrink the tumor, then follow up with surgery to prevent re-growth. But a CAT scan revealed the tumor was still growing. On Aug. 16, Trever had surgery to remove portions of five ribs. During the surgery, doctors had to remove skin and muscle as well, then do reconstruction on those areas. The diaphragm muscle had to be reattached to a new location. He also has a higher threat of pneumonia and bronchitis in the right lung.

Trever is currently undergoing radiation every day for the next 5 1/2 weeks and chemotherapy for the next year.

The radiation will stunt the growth of his right chest wall and he will most likely develop scoliosis and lean to the right, his mother said.

Brad said each time he has had surgery he had to take off from his job at Bridon Cordage for three months, and then was placed on restrictions which made it impossible to care for the couple’s children, so they also incurred the cost of child care. And Christine has had to cut back on her hours in her job at Elm Homes to work in appointments for Trever. They have already lost a vehicle, and are in danger of losing their home because they are in financial straits.

Family and friends are organizing a benefit to help the family meet expenses. The benefit will be Friday, Oct. 11, at the Austin Holiday Inn ballroom. A silent auction begins at 5 p.m. and a spaghetti supper at 6 p.m. There will also be entertainment.

Anyone interested in making donations for the auction can contact Joan Van Riper at 448-3647. Donations may also be sent to the Brad Benner Benefit Fund in care of Wells Fargo Bank, 112 E. Main St., Albert Lea.