Community Rallies to Help Tri-Valley Teen Battling Cystic Fibrosis

A fundraiser is being held at Sauced in Livermore on May 21 to help Hannah Hewitt, 16, and her family. Learn more about how you can help the family with four disabled children.

Hannah Hewitt
Hannah Hewitt

Livermore teen Hannah Hewitt is no longer able to participate in dance classes or sleepovers. Instead, 16-year-old Hewitt, who battles cystic fibrosis, spends much of her her time in and out of hospital and doctor's offices.

Friends, family and businesses in Livermore are teaming up to help raise money for the teen and her family who have had more than their share of obstacles over the last few years.

Hewitt, who was adopted at the age of three, is one of seven children in the family. The Hewitts adopted three other children, who each also have special needs or disabilities. 

Hewitt's mother, Beth Hewitt, says, "The addition of a child to a family is a gift regardless if that blessing is through a birth or an adoption. Hannah, our first adoption and fourth child, is no exception."

The Hewitt's Christmas Gift

Hewitt, just 3-years-old at the time, came to the family days before Christmas in 2001. 

"She had a beaming smile and captivating demeanor; yet, she was in a battle against the perils of cystic fibrosis," Beth said.

Cystic fibrosis, defined by the Mayo Clinic as a "life-threatening" genetic disorder, is found most often in people with Northern European ancestry, and causes damage to the lungs and digestive system. 

According to Beth, Hewitt's cystic fibrosis, although diagnosed early on, was not treated properly during her toddler years and as a result, Hewitt's body suffered damage as the disease had already began to attack many of her smooth organs.

"She had not been given the prescribed medications or adhered to the intense treatment program," Beth said. "As a result of the poor care Hannah was very ill. It is at this juncture our family embarked the crash course in understanding cystic fibrosis, a deadly disease with no cure, and seeking medical intervention to stabilize her condition."

Words A Family Never Wants to Hear

Hewitt improved under the care of the Hewitt family but her adopted mother says Hewitt's health has suffered serious decline over the past year.

"Our hearts were heavy and the tears were countless as our ears listened to the words that we dreaded to hear. Hannah was not going to get better despite the intravenous medications, the treatments or the latest program. Her shortness of breath, frequent illnesses and numerous hospital admissions was her new best. 

"Her lower left lung has failed to function properly and the upper half has sustained profound scar tissue damage, of which neither condition will recover. In addition to a series of breathing treatments four times a day, therapy vest treatments 3 times per day and numerous inhalers/medications, Hannah will now adjust to utilizing oxygen through the night and as needed during the day. 

"Hannah is no longer able to participate in her beloved dance classes or other activities due to her medical decline. Enjoying a simple pleasure such as sleeping over at a friend's house is no longer an option. For that matter, at this time friend’s that visit Hannah must wear a mask to protect her from any potential illness."

Beth told Patch that her husband works and she stays home to care for Hewitt and two of her siblings, who need significant care and support on a daily basis.

"Although a lung transplant may be an option in the future, Hannah must endure the harsh realities of her disease for now. Her lungs function in the 40 percent range and organ failure is required for a transplant. I stay home with Hannah and two of her siblings as she and her youngest brother (and last adoption) require 24-hour care. Caring for a child with cystic fibrosis and one with multiple defects is emotionally troublesome and financially devastating. It is enough of a battle for a child to struggle with a life-threatening disease and for a family to wrestle with the heartache of watching a child suffer."

Hewitt and her sibling's health challenges are not the only hurdles this family is facing. 

Home is Where the Heart and Health Should Be

According to family friend Matt Toomey, the Hewitt family recently moved to a ranch between Livermore and Tracy that turned out to be be a "money pit."

"They moved to a ranch because it has been Hannah's childhood dream to live on a ranch," Toomey said. "Unfortunately, the house has been a money pit and needs everything from a new roof, insulation, and the removal of black mold (which is likely contributing to Hannah's recent hospital visits)."

Between the chronic health care costs for Hewitt and her siblings, and the repairs needed in their home, finances have become a huge challenge for the family.

"We moved in on September 13, 2013," Beth said. "We have already spent $80,000. Our family and friends have been helping with demolition, which has been wonderful. One friend, who is a plumber, assisted with the rough plumbing. Another friend has helped with the rough electrical. At this juncture that is the extent of the help and has been a profound blessing."

How to Help the Hewitt Family

Once the community learned about the Hewitt's situation, they have rallied to garner donations and make the needed repairs to the family home. 

Beth told Patch, "We are blessed with tremendous medical benefits and are grateful for what my husband‘s employer provides; however, there are many durable medical supplies that are not covered by our plan.

"Our plan also does not cover alterations to our home that can improve respiratory function, promote wheelchair mobility or ADA accommodations. We do not qualify for any government medical programs. These organizations do not take into account the amount we pay for co-payments, hospital admissions, prescriptions, parking, etc.

"Regardless of financial hardships we know for certain that we are truly blessed by the gift of raising these precious individuals."

You can help support the Team Hannah Fundraiser by stopping in for dinner at Sauced BBQ & Spirits in Livermore on May 21 starting at 4 p.m. A fundraiser page has also been created to help the Hewitt family. Click here to donate to Team Hannah. 

A yard sale fundraiser will be held on June 21 and June 22. Donations of gently used and new items are appreciated. Bring items to 855 Hanover Street in Livermore.
Follow Team Hannah on Facebook for updates about Hewitt.


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