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Dyer infant will get surgery that could save his life
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Dyer infant will get surgery that could save his life

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DYER | One day, Becky Petreikis hopes to put together the articles, e-mails and notes that have come into her home over the course of the past week into a scrapbook and present them to her now infant son.

"He'll definitely know someday the outpouring of support," Petreikis, of Dyer, said of her 5-month-old son Seth Petreikis. "Hopefully someday he'll be able to give back too."

Petreikis and her family received the welcome news they had spent months waiting for on Friday. The insurance companies that manage the infant's state health coverage will pay for a procedure Seth needs to combat an immune deficiency disease known as complete DiGeorge syndrome.

"It's an amazing miracle," Petreikis said.

MDwise Inc. and AmeriHealth Mercy of Indiana decided to pay for the procedure after weighing the evidence and potential outcomes, according to a news release.

"Based on Seth's unique and compelling story, we believe making a compassionate allowance in this case is appropriate," said Caroline Carney Doebbeling, MDwise's chief medical officer.

The Petreikises live in a basement apartment beneath the family's Dyer flooring business, and they never were able to afford traditional health insurance. Seth is covered by Medicaid, but the thymus transplant needed to correct the complete DiGeorge syndrome -- a $350,000 to $500,000 procedure -- was not covered by the state-federal insurance program because Indiana deemed it experimental. The family had learned last weekend it was out of appeals, and without the surgery, Seth would not live past 2 years old.

The only doctor who performs the procedure in the country is based at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. MDwise Hoosier Alliance, the system operated by AmeriHealth Mercy under the MDwise health plan, will determine payment with Duke.

Petreikis said a surgery date isn't scheduled yet, but it likely will be done by spring.

"My heart is overfilled with joy," she said. "It's just bubbling over."

Petreikis began the week with the hope that some media outlets would provide information about Seth and his medical situation, unsure what might happen or if anyone would respond. First reported Wednesday in The Times, the story quickly became national news with people across the country wanting to help.

The Prayers for Seth Petreikis Facebook page has more than 800 followers. A mass letter campaign started by the Immune Deficiency Foundation to Gov. Mitch Daniels' office resulted in more than 200 letters in 4 1/2 hours. Petreikis had a telephone conversation with Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who has a daughter with DiGeorge syndrome and sponsors a foundation for the disease.

Tim Petreikis, Becky's husband, said the Seth Benjamin Foundation has been established and every dime donated by people across the country -- more than $110,000 thus far -- will be used for research and making sure another family doesn't go through what his family endured.

And to everyone who offered donations, prayers and support, the family has a message Petreikis admits is simple, but it really has no other words to say.

"Thank you."

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