Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Donation Helps Family of Infant with Rare Heart Defect

A Pay It Forward donation is helping a Twin Cities-area family pay for the medical costs of their daughter, who was born with a rare, complex heart defect.

“I will forever be grateful. Even with good insurance, hospital bills aren't cheap, and Bella will always need to meet the minimum deductible out of pocket each year before insurance kicks in.” – Laura Docken, Pay It Forward recipient

Bell Employee

Lisa Trautman, mortgage lending processing manager


Laura Docken

The Need

Laura Docken's daughter, Bella, was born with a rare, complex congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot, which involves four heart defects: a large ventricular septal defect, pulmonary stenosis, right ventricular hypertrophy and an overriding aorta. The result is that not enough blood can reach the lungs for oxygen, and oxygen-poor blood flows throughout the body.

The Impact

Tetralogy of Fallot can be repaired with open-heart surgery. Bella underwent a scary, 13-hour surgery in April that included 3 rounds of bypass, 3 blood transfusions and a month-long hospital stay.

When Lisa heard about what her friend and former co-worker’s daughter was going through, she wanted to do something. She reached out to other Bell employees, and they pooled their Pay It Forward funds to help.

“The costs and time off work may be far from a parent’s mind as they sit crib-side in the intensive-care unit, but to be able to offer them some relief is an amazing gift,” Lisa says.

“The donation was very unexpected, which caught me off guard and made it even more meaningful,” Laura remarks. “I couldn't believe they still even thought of me, let alone enough to use their Pay It Forward donations toward me and my daughter, especially when there are so many different options.”

Bella has undergone another, more minor surgery since the first one, and Laura says she’s doing well.

“You couldn't tell by her vibrant personality that she has gone through anything so dramatic,” Laura comments. “It will take lifelong maintenance and checkups, but she is the strongest little lady in the world.”

Back to Giving Stories