The family of a young boy in need of heart surgery — and a Norman restaurant raising support for him — are hoping for the community's help, with the operation just a month away.

Anakin Oakley was born with major aortic stenosis, a congenital heart defect in which the valve can’t fully open. In his case, the heart valve was completely closed.

Doctors attempted intervention with a balloon aortic valvuloplasty, a procedure that stretches the aortic valve, but it was unsuccessful.

Now doctors say surgery to replace the valve is necessary.

On October 17, a little over a week after his fourth birthday, Anakin is set to receive a donor valve replacement. Anakin’s mom, Cierra Oakley, said because donor valves are cryogenically frozen, they can’t grow with the recipient’s body.

“It will just be there until his heart and body actually outgrows or destroys it,” Cierra said.

Cierra’s husband Logan works at Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar on 24th Ave. in north Norman. The restaurant’s general manager, Kim Cordero, found out about Anakin’s upcoming operation and organized a fundraiser.

All day on Sept. 26, the burger bar will donate 20% of sales to Logan and Cierra.

“We’re a family here and we just like to take care of each other, and we’re there for Logan, Cierra and their kiddos,” Cordero said.

A limiting condition

The initial surgery next month will likely be the first replacement in a series of operations throughout Anakin’s life, Cierra said. The surgeon told Cierra some kids will need another replacement in two years, and others it can take 20 years.

Anakin likes to play and keep up with his twin brother Thomas, but the condition limits his ability to do that.

“His heart is pumping so fast to push the blood through, but it’s not being pushed through,” Cierra said. “He’s always tired. My other child Thomas is more hands on and running, lifting and throwing, but Anakin is more intellectual and he’s building stuff with magnets and can count to 20.”

Family, community support provides hope

Cierra’s mom, Darla Golman, also started a GoFundMe page in July to garner financial support for the surgery and related costs.

Golman hopes the support makes what has been a difficult circumstance easier to take on.

Cierra described the support from her family and her husband’s employer as “a blessing.”

“We really appreciate everything everybody’s trying to do from the bottom of our hearts,” Cierra said. “If you’ve met my kids, you know just how happy these boys are, and you know just how easy it is to love them and do whatever you can for them.”

Jeff Elkins covers business, living and community stories for The Transcript. Reach him at jelkins@normantranscript.com or at @JeffElkins12 on Twitter.

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