Ill boy with Selma connection seeks letters

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 3, 2005

The Selma Times-Journal

For almost 17 years, Janet Cochran has been praying for her grandson. Although her prayers will continue, she said that she wants to do more.

“I just wanted to do something,” Cochran said. “Andrew likes to get mail. We’d like to get started finding people that will send him mail because there’s not much that he can do now.”

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Cochran, a former resident of Selma who now lives in Virginia, said that her grandson, Andrew Spradling, was born with a heart that only has two chambers and one valve.

“He was also born with his heart, stomach and all his internal organs on the right side,” she said. “He has scoliosis of the spine and needs surgery really bad, but they can’t do it because of his heart.”

Cochran said that Andrew’s liver drained into his heart and he has problems with his spleen.

“He has had four open heart surgeries – three in Richmond at MCV and one at the Mayo Clinic at Rochester, Minnesota,” Cochran said. “The doctors in Richmond would not do a transplant because they were sure he wouldn’t survive it. Then they decided that something might be done at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.”

In hopes of receiving a transplant, Andrew and his mother Debra Spradling moved to Rochester and lived at the Ronald McDonald House that was near the Mayo Clinic.

“They stayed there for 16 months waiting on a heart,” Cochran said. “The heart had to be from a donor that was from 40 to 80 pounds and none was found.”

“He had so many complications that they finally decided that a heart transplant wasn’t feasible,” she said. “So they sent him back home and now he goes back to the Mayo Clinic for check-ups and different tests.”

Andrew’s health is gradually declining. At 5’1″, he weighs 83 pounds and gets around with the help of an electric scooter.

Despite all that he has endured, Andrew remains optimistic.

“His attitude just amazes everyone,” Cochran said. “Nothing gets him down. Even as a little guy, when he had to have blood taken so many times, he would hold out his arm and say, ‘you got one shot at it.'”

“He still goes to school,” she said. “He has one class that he goes to in the afternoon.

Cochran said that Andrew’s school – William Byrd High School – raised over $30,000 to help assist with his medical costs.

“He’s a real great little guy,” Cochran said. “Everybody loves him. We just ask that people keep our family in their prayers.”

Andrew will be 17 on July, 27. Because of his love for mail, Cochran is asking that people send him a card, note, or letter.

Please send mail to:

Andrew Spradling


Meadors Spur Road

Moneta, Va. 24121