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Children's hospital fundraiser to honor Scappoose man

Memorial fundraiser named after Dustin Bowers, 20, who died of heart failure in 2015

When Ramona Reed found out five months into her pregnancy that her unborn son had a heart condition, she didn’t know what to expect.

The Scappoose woman said doctors gave her options, and she decided to do the same for her son.

“They said they had very few [patients] at that point, that had survived the surgeries,” Reed recalled.

“They said, ‘You could let him be born and do nothing and let him die, or abort the pregnancy.’” Neither of those were options for Reed, so she gave birth to her son, Dustin Bowers, in 1994.

FAMILY PHOTO - Dustin Bowers, shown here in a hospital room, was born with a heart defect. He succumbed to his condition in 2015. Dustin was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is underdeveloped, preventing it from pumping blood to the body. She later opted to allow doctors to operate on her son’s heart, rather than waiting for a heart transplant.

“By the time he was 3, he had four open heart surgeries,” Reed recalled of her son.

He underwent more surgeries, sustaining a mostly normal, healthy life, Reed said. Dustin graduated from Scappoose High School in 2013. The following year, in December 2014, he started having complications.

Dustin was getting bouts of congestive heart failure, Reed said, and his doctors wanted to perform another surgery. Reed said her son was against it, but had an appointment to go in and discuss his options with his cardiologist.

Dustin died May 12, 2015, at the age of 20, a few days before his appointment.

“Overall he was very healthy and nobody would know anything was wrong with him, Reed said of her youngest son. “I wanted him to be a pretty normal kid and not live in a bubble. He started riding motorcycles at 7 years old and skateboarded and did all the other things kids did.”

Reed said watching her son grow up and lead a healthy life probably led her to forget that his mortality was always a looming threat.

“I kinda did take things for granted, I suppose, because he did so well for so long,” she said.

As she approaches the first anniversary of her son’s death, Reed is gearing up to remember him in a big way.

On May 14, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Dustin’s family and friends will host a memorial fundraiser at the Wig Wam Tavern in Scappoose, with proceeds going to Randall Children’s Hospital, the same place Bowers received care his whole life.

The fundraiser event will feature a rummage sale, theme baskets prizes, food sold by the Wig Wam, and a poker and motorcycle run.

A Dustin Bowers memorial account has also been set up with St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union.

Dustin received treatment at Randall Children’s Hospital, formerly Emanuel, his whole life.

He was still in the children’s part because that’s where his cardiologists were,” Reed noted.

Reed said her son wasn’t perfect, noting his rebellious streak, but he cared about others.

“He was a gift from God, but boy could he be a hellion,” she said.

Before his death, Dustin created an anti-bullying Facebook group, which eventually gained just over 500 members.

“Dustin was all about helping people,” Reed said. “For a kid with half a heart, he had a bigger one than anyone we knew. If you needed him, he was there.”

The Dustin Bowers Memorial Fundraiser will raise money for Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland.