The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Angie Fairfield gets device to plug hole in heart 2012.04.11

Written by David Green.

angie.fairfieldBy DAVID GREEN

It was probably the oddest birthday gift that Angie Fairfield ever received. It was probably the best birthday gift ever, too.

The package she opened on the operating table of the University of Toledo Medical Center mended her broken heart and gave her a new lease on life.

“I didn’t even know I had a heart problem—until I had my first mini-stroke,” said the Fayette resident.

Angie remembers that day well. Jan. 9, 2012. She had a headache, but that wasn’t so unusual since she suffers from migraines. This one, however, wouldn’t go away, despite taking her migraine medication. By the time she reached the emergency room, there was a numbness down the left side of her body.

A month later, to the day, her second mini-stroke struck. She was at work at Fayette’s Circle K when it happened. It got to the point where she couldn’t walk or talk and off she went again to the hospital.

“By the time I got there, my left eye was looking left,” she said.

An EKG showed there was an apparent hole in a chamber of her heart. An esophageal EKG showed what was really going on: It wasn’t merely a hole—her heart was tearing.

“That sounds like a horror movie,” Angie says. “They said I was probably born with a small hole in my heart that got bigger.”

A hole in the heart—atrial septal defect or ASD—is generally repaired with a patch through a catheter-based approach. Rather than opening the chest, the heart is reached through a catheter that passes through a vein in the leg.

After a series of tests, Angie had her surgery date set with Dr. Ehab Eltahawy at UT Medical Center’s cardiac department.

Dr. Eltahawy determined that a patch wasn’t going to do the job. The hole was about the size of a nickel, but the tearing was worsening.

He made the decision to give the Helex Septal Occluder a try. The device is manufactured by W. L. Gore & Associates—a company made famous by its Gore-Tex fabric, but also internationally known for its medical products.

The Helex has patched many hearts since it was approved for use in 2006, but Angie was told she would be only the second person in the country to have the Helex repair a tear.

The Helex comes wrapped in a long thin box and it was given to Angie for unwrapping. After all, it was almost her birthday.

“I got to open the box,” she said. “That was my birthday present. They didn’t put a ribbon around it, but they did give me a cupcake.”

The Helex is a permanent heart implant that consists of a small wire frame covered with a thin membrane. The device is pushed through a catheter, properly positioned, then released. Placement is guided by two images. An X-ray image shows the location of the metal frame; an ultrasound image shows the heart structure and the blood flow.

Angie watched it all while lying on the table.

The small fabric-covered hoops keep the blood where it belongs, and eventually the heart tissue grows around the edges and seals the device in place.

The procedure takes less than a couple of hours and the patient is out of the hospital and back to normal life anywhere from two days to a week.

The Helex doesn’t work for everyone, but so far Angie is doing well. She’s had the first of her monthly check-ups and everything looks good.

She undergoes a “bubble study” in which bubbles of a saline solution are observed passing through the heart to look for leaks between the chambers.

Her only problem is a lack of insurance to cover the cost of the follow-up visits.

“I feel great and my blood pressure is great,” said the 42-year-old. “I’m back to my normal 100 miles per hour.”

She hasn’t had a migraine since her surgery, either, and she’s hoping they’re gone for good. Doctors still aren’t sure if there might be a relationship between blood pressure and migraines.

“There is a good possibility of a connection,” she said.”

She’s experienced migraines since she was a teen-ager and blood pressure problems have accompanied them.

Angie is taking her physical condition in stride, and with her usual sense of humor. For example, those nickel-titanium metal frames of the Helex? 

“That just increases my ‘cool factor,’” Angie said.

No one else she knows is walking around with that special nitinol alloy in their heart.

“I’m on a roll,” she said, referring to three years of cancer-free living.

So far, she’s staying on top of her bout with brain cancer.

“I’m a tough person to keep down,” she says.

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