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Turlock boy born with multiple heart defects
Tanner pic2
Monica and James Woods pose for a picture with their daughter McKenzie in their son, Tanner’s, hospital room at UCSF. The photo was taken on Dec. 16, when Tanner was 3 days old and one day post surgery. - photo by Photo Contributed

James and Monica Woods were faced with a parents’ worst nightmare. Their beautiful baby boy was born with health problems — and not just one or two problems, but a list of abnormalities that affect his ability to pump blood through his body.

Tanner was born on Dec. 13 with his heart on the wrong side, his arteries attached backwards, half of his heart bigger than the other and a problem with the blood pumping away from his heart. He also was born without a spleen.

The doctors diagnosed Tanner as having a rare condition called right isomerism that targets one in every 10,000 to 15,000 people.

“It is just a fluke that happened in the early stages of development,” said Monica Woods, Tanner’s mother.

And that fluke will affect Tanner for the rest of his life as he will have to undergo multiple surgeries and eventually a heart transplant.

For all the foreseen surgeries, James and Monica’s families are hosting a fundraiser to help with medical costs to keep Tanner healthy.

There will be a tri-tip dinner fundraiser from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 at the American Legion Post located on 75 Bothun Rd., in Turlock. Tickets are $7 and the dinner will include a tri-tip sandwich with chili and salad for dine-in or take out.

They are hoping the fundraiser will help the family keep up with Tanner’s medical condition, something they have been aware of since Monica was 20 weeks pregnant.

“We went in for our 20-week check up and the ultrasound technician was acting funny,” Monica said. “She went and got the doctor and they couldn’t tell us if the baby was healthy or not.”

The Woods family was referred to the University of San Francisco and on Aug. 10, they were told about the complexities going on with Tanner.

“My initial worry was will we be able to take care of a special needs child?” Monica said.

Doctors determined there was nothing genetically wrong with Tanner, but he would have to have multiple open heart surgeries and eventually a heart transplant.

“This is our plan in life and we are going to take care of our children,” Monica said.

When Tanner was born, there was a team of surgeons and cardiologists waiting to take him straight into surgery, but he was healthier than expected.

“Everyone was expecting a very sick baby,” she said. “But Tanner is doing much better than everyone has expected.”

Doctors were able to postpone the surgery and he had his first open heart surgery at two days old when doctors put in a central shunt and tried to correct the drainage away from Tanner’s heart. He will have another open heart surgery when he is four to six months old and again when he is five years old.

He also will need a heart transplant sometime in his life, Monica said.

Currently, Tanner is doing well and might even be able to come home next week.

“I wouldn’t change my decision,” Monica said. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Those interested in purchasing tickets for Tanner’s tri-tip dinner fundraiser can contact Lisa Stuart at 404-5497 or Penny Shabazian at 678-8200. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.