Tanner Novak


Video courtesy of WXOW Channel 19.


Video courtesy of WXOW Channel 19.

At just over 2 years old, Tanner Novak constantly tests the limits, seeing what his smile will let him get away with. Tanner also tries to keep up with his big brother Payton. Typical for a 2-year-old, but not much else has been typical for the Novak family of La Crosse, Wis.

During a prenatal ultrasound, parents Kim and Anthony learned that Tanner had a complex congenital heart defect. Tanner’s first 18 months were rough. At just three weeks old, he needed back-to-back surgeries far from home, followed by a long, difficult recovery.

CMN Hospitals was there for the Novak family from the start. "They helped with travel and hotel costs during that first hospital stay," says Kim. "When a child is sick, it impacts the entire family. CMN Hospitals provides some emotional and financial relief."

Tanner faced many more hurdles including pneumonia, months on oxygen, multiple complex heart surgeries, implanted pacemaker, feeding tube and long hospitalizations. Again, CMN Hospitals helped with meal tickets, and the cost of special formula and injections. They also provided toys for the boys during Tanner’s hospital stays.

After another difficult surgery, Tanner turned the corner. "Amazingly, he did great," says Kim. "Since then he has gotten stronger and more active every day."

Many who meet him are surprised to learn about all he has endured because just like other kids, he loves to play outside, especially on the swing set at daycare, and snack on Oreo cookies or granola bars.

Tanner will need more surgeries and close monitoring throughout his life, but for now, thanks to his family, medical team and CMN Hospitals, nothing seems off limits to this determined 2-year-old.

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