PERU - Three-year-old Tyler Haudberg has already traveled a tough road in his young life.
Tyler was born April 22, 2006, to parents Scott and Darci Haudberg of Peru, and was initially thought to be healthy. However, at five weeks old, he suffered from respiratory distress and was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vt. Since then, Tyler has been hospitalized more than 20 times and, recently admitted to Boston Children's Hospital in Massachusetts where he stayed for nearly three months.
The only diagnosis doctors can give the Haudbergs is that Tyler has an unknown type of chronic lung disease and suffers from pulmonary hypertension, which has damaged his heart and caused his oxygen levels to fall dangerously low. In January 2008, doctors inserted a feeding tube into Tyler's stomach to decrease chances of aspiration and reflux into his lungs. Among a host of other medical conditions, Tyler also suffers from a weakened immune system, neurological abnormalities and developmental delay.
"It's hard for him to be like a typical little boy," said Darci Haudberg.
Doctors are examining him to see if it would be best for him to receive a double-lung transplant, said his mother.
"[The doctors] feel like he needs a lung transplant, but he may not necessarily be a candidate for it," said Haudberg. "If he does need a double lung transplant, it's very possible that he would need a heart as well."
Among the tests doctors are performing is a genetic test for a lysosomal storage disease, a condition which interferes with the body's ability to break down certain molecules. The results of that test, said Haudberg, are expected to take about a month to receive.
If the test comes back positive, Tyler may not be able to have transplant surgery, she added.
Regardless, Tyler was recently sent back to Fletcher Allen and is expected to come home within the next month where he will remain on a ventilator and require "around the clock care," said his mother.
Though the majority of Tyler's medical care is covered by insurance, there are still deductibles that are paid, travel costs, and other expenses associated with his care.
As a means to raise money for the Haudbergs and awareness of Tyler's condition, family friend Lisa Gonyo and other volunteers are organizing a spaghetti dinner benefit. The fundraiser will be held at Peru Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 309 Sunday, April 19, from 12-7 p.m.
"We just wanted to help them out," said Gonyo, who is also godmother to the Haudbergs' older son, Dillon. "We've been handing out flyers, getting donations and just spreading the word for about a month now."
Gonyo said she has been overwhelmed by the amount of support people and businesses have shown for the event.
"We've had businesses donate certificates, baskets of products that we can raffle off. Some places have donated hotel stays ... It's just a very huge number of people who want to help out," she said. "In times of need, people are there - even in these poor economic times. Especially, when they see Tyler's picture."
The menu for the April 19 benefit will include spaghetti, tossed salad and a roll and cost $7 for adults and $3 for children.
The event will also include raffles and entertainment by local bands. An auction will be held from 3:30-5 p.m.
Those wanting to send donations to the Haudbergs or cards wishing Tyler well may do so to 693 Union Road, Peru N.Y. 12972.
For more information, contact Gonyo at 643-6787 or visit's Haudberg's blog about her son's experience at www.carepages.com/carepages/tylerhaudberg.