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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Ankeny)

1055 Southwest Oralabor Road
Ankeny, IA 50023

Current Estimated Wait:
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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Jordan Creek)

180 Jordan Creek Pkwy
West Des Moines, IA 50266

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waukee)

950 E Hickman Rd
Waukee, IA 50263

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Altoona

2720 8th Street Southwest
Altoona, IA 50009

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Ankeny Medical Park

3625 North Ankeny Boulevard
Ankeny, IA 50023

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Ingersoll

2103 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Southglen

6520 Southeast 14th Street
Des Moines, IA 50320

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Urbandale

5200 NW 100th Street
Urbandale, IA 50322

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Harper

Harper is a typical 7-year-old who loves all things girly. She participates in dance, tumbling, track club and likes to golf. She loves arts and crafts, playing with her little brother Maximus, doing her nails and swimming in her grandma's pool. She has a joy for life that defies her difficult start in life. 

Harper's mom Whitney had a fairly normal pregnancy. She and husband Brett were excited to be expecting but were shocked during an ultrasound when the doctor said the baby's jaw looked small. Unsure what that meant, doctors continued to watch her closely. They were referred to a specialist who also noticed her small jaw but could not find any other abnormalities other than a more than normal amount of amniotic fluid. 

Induced at 39 weeks and after a long day in labor, Whitney ended up with a cesarean section. "Our world changed forever when they pulled her out," said Whitney. "She did not cry, and I immediately knew something was not right." 

A neonatologist told the couple there were some abnormalities that they had not detected before birth. Harper was born with a very small jaw, which compromised her airway, a complete cleft palate, which meant the roof of her mouth had not formed, no cheek bones, and no ears, only ear lobes. All of her birth defects were within the head and face and did not affect any of her other organs. 

"When we first got to see her," said Whitney, "despite all the tubes and machines, she was perfect."

The day after Harper was born, Whitney and Brett received their daughter's diagnosis: Treacher Collins Syndrome, which affects 1 in 50,000 people and is characterized by distinctive craniofacial abnormalities like downward-slanting eyes, small jaw or chin, and altered development of the facial bones and tissues. Throughout her young life, Harper has undergone many surgeries, including a tracheostomy at three days, a feeding tube at four weeks, a jaw-lengthening surgery at six months, a cleft palate repair at nine months, and at five years, another jaw-lengthening surgery and a placement of bone conduction magnets in her skull for her hearing devices, called BAHA (bone assisted hearing aid). 

"Harper did not notice she was different until she started getting older," said Whitney. "We often notice people staring, and children are the most curious. Although the stares are uncomfortable, we try to take those moments as teaching opportunities to explain that her tracheostomy helps her breathe and her headband with hearing aids helps her hear." 

Harper's family and community have been wonderfully supportive, including participating in a 5K walk/run to raise funds to help cover surgery and other medical expenses. In fact, people in their community say hello to her wherever she goes, just like a town celebrity! 

"Harper has brought so much joy and happiness to us," said Whitney. "She is funny and loving and the best thing to happen to our family. She is brave every day, and we are so proud of her."