7 year-old Sydney Arno of McConnellsville looks like a normal child. She enjoys singing, dancing and playing like every other kid. But unlike most children, she’s suffering from a rare brain disorder. Sydney was diagnosed in September with Chiari Malformation.  Yesterday she had surgery to remove a portion of her skull and brain tissue at Strong Memorial Childrens Hospital in Rochester.

Despite being thrown a curve ball, doctors managed to finish the surgery. But Sydney is having a rough time recovering. Her mother Heather says she's been getting sick a lot.

Heather Arno

The support and prayers for Sydney continue to pour in. From messages on Facebook to cards and letter, Sydney and her family are feeling the love.  Her friends at school sent so many well wishes, they covered her bed.

Heather Arno

Problems Since Birth

Sydney may only be 7, but she’s already has a tough life. She was born 4 weeks early and during labor, Sydney's mother Heather says she got stuck in the birth canal, her heart stopped and her face was squished on the left side from her eye to her chin. When she was finally delivered, Sydney suffered nerve damage where her face had been pressed on so hard, which left her eye unable to completely close, and her mouth drooped down to the left.

Then Sydney went from 6.9 pounds at birth to 3.9 pounds after continually vomitting. She was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis; the tube that takes food from the stomach to the intestines was completely closed. Surgery repaired the problem but doctors found a rip in between the chambers of Sydney’s heart, and her pulmonary valve was much too small for her heart.

Sydney has suffered significant delays in her gross motor, fine motor, and verbal skills, likely caused by a brain abnormality. Despite all this, Sydney stays strong. Heather says ‘I know we’ll cross many more hurdles, but that’s what makes our bond even stronger.’

Heather Arno

How To Help

Heather is taking time off work and the family will travel back and forth to Rochester. Family friends have set up a campaign at GoFundMe.com, to ease the financial burden of gas, hotels, tolls, food, parking and anything else that arises.

Heather likes to give back but says when she first heard about the campaign for her family, she was hesitant ‘I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to accept it. I love the idea and I love knowing how many people love Sydney. I just want to thank everyone for the kind words, donations and phone calls. I know I don’t deserve all this, but she certainly does. Although, I’m scared to death, we are incredibly lucky to have so much support..’

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