Six weeks ago, the Courier introduced readers to 2-year-old Brynslet Sellers, whose heart is failing.
Amanda Sellers says her daughter is hanging in there, but the family is still raising money to help pay mounting medical bills and transportation costs for trips to Atlanta, where Brynslet is being treated. In addition, the family could use help with utility bills and groceries.
To help, Jodee Carlen and Tyrone Adams, owners of the Colleseum Sports Palace and Grill, teamed up with Brandon Dunn and Melissa Christopher to hold a softball tournament fundraiser Aug. 3 at James Brown Park.
Teams paid to play and businesses — including Thomas Hill Jewelry, Hinesville Day Spa and Game Stop — donated items for a raffle. Barbers even cut hair for donations. Liberty Propane donated an outdoor cooker and Anytime Fitness donated water bottles.
“We have had so many people in the community come out to support Brynslet and the Sellers family,” Adams said. “It is so important for the community to help out their neighbors, especially when a child is in this situation.”
Brynslet’s health has declined since February, when she was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy. Her heart was functioning at about 10 percent for three months.
“Her heart is one really big weak muscle that doesn’t pump at all,” Amanda Sellers said. “She would not survive without the meds she is on now.”
Sellers rushed her daughter to Wayne Memorial Hospital’s emergency room in February after Brynslet became lethargic and unresponsive.
“She wasn’t eating or drinking,” Sellers said. “She was just lying there, and she had a fever.”
The doctors diagnosed Brynselt with bronchitis, and she was admitted for dehydration. Her pediatricians saw that her heart was enlarged on X-rays.
“A normal child’s heart should be about 8 millimeters in size,” Sellers said. “But Brynslet’s heart is currently at 52 millimeters … it is severely enlarged.”
The doctors at first thought she had a virus, so they waited for it to heal. Brynslet was sent to Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah for a month, but her condition never improved.
“They then diagnosed her with dilated cardiomyopathy in March,” Seller said. “They don’t know what caused this and they can’t fix it.”
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a heart-muscle disease where the main pumping chamber thins and can’t pump blood properly. For Brynslet, the only solution is a heart transplant.
“There is no other plan,” Sellers said. “There are no back-ups. This is it.”
Brynslet was sent to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she is awaiting a new heart. She has been at the top of the list since March.
“She is the first one with her body type and blood type in this region,” she said. “As time continues to get longer, she gets worse.”
At first, Sellers and her husband, Thomas, worked opposite shifts to take care of Brynslet, her two sisters and one brother. However, Sellers recently had to stop working to stay with her daughter in Atlanta.
“We went from two paychecks to one paycheck,” Sellers said. “I can’t work … I have to stay in Atlanta.”
Adams, Amanda Sellers’ former boss, knew of Brynslet’s struggle.
“This is a child, and she needs help,” Adams said. “Anybody going through something like this needs help from their neighbors.”
Adams started the Brynslet Sellers Heart Fund, and anyone interested in donating can go to www.gofundme.com/Brysnlets-Heart or email firstname.lastname@example.org.