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Colter Peterson, KSL

Family gets a second chance at home ownership after son's kidney failure depleted their finances

By Wendy Leonard, KSL | Posted - Jul. 19, 2019 at 7:01 a.m.

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LAYTON — Tyler and Angela Farrell had given up on becoming homeowners again.

They sold their first home and were forced to change jobs to be able to help care for their infant son, who was diagnosed with kidney failure at just 3 months old.

"We went into sacrifice mode to make things happen for him," Tyler Farrell said Thursday. The couple moved in with a grandmother, who lived in Woods Cross, to be closer to Primary Children's Hospital.

When Lindon Farrell was a little older than 1, he had just one functioning kidney and it was working at only 6% capacity. The tot was on dialysis 15 hours a day, had a feeding tube for nourishment, and had to take multiple expensive medications.

In February 2018, Lindon received a kidney transplant. Because of that miracle, his mother said he can eat food on his own and "enjoys life a little more." However, he still requires a lot of extra care, and the family is working hard to make ends meet.

"This kidney will not last a lifetime," Angela Farrell, 31, said. "For now, we take it a day at a time."

They had saved up some money to become more independent and buy a home, but the current market had priced them out of anything that wouldn't put their son's fragile immunity at risk.

"It was very depressing," Tyler Farrell said. "We had given up."

At the same time, Melanie Maxwell, a Realtor and member of the Community Outreach Committee of the Have a Heart Home Foundation, was spending a lot of time at Primary Children's Hospital visiting her granddaughter, who was also sick, and met the Farrells.

Tyler Farrell, left, Joel Holley, Angela Farrell, Genny Mikkelsen and Jamie Galindo talk around the kitchen island in the Farrells' new home in Layton on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo: Colter Peterson, KSL)

Tyler Farrell, 31, said Maxwell is one of the many "angels" they met during their multiple and lengthy stays at the hospital.

"During our time of tragedy, seeing their little boy so full of life, pushing around his IV tower and playing hide-and-seek with his dad in the halls, made a huge difference to us," Maxwell said.

She nominated the Farrells for the chance of owning a new home at an affordable price.

"A new home for us would be a priceless and life-altering gift," Angela Farrell said.

"This is a family that had to sell their home to pay medical bills, that they're probably still paying," said Stuart Smith, president of Mainline Construction in Layton. He volunteered many hours to build the home at 1728 N. Alfred Drive, as well as landscape and decorate it for the Northern Wasatch Parade of Homes, which ends Saturday.

I hope they are able to give their son the attention he deserves and not be a family that is stressed out trying to make ends meet.

–Stuart Smith, Mainline Construction

"Before even pulling up to the house, we already knew this was going to be our home," Tyler Farrell said, thanking everyone who made it possible.

The Have a Heart Home Foundation is a nonprofit, joint initiative of the Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors and the Northern Wasatch Home Builders Association to "provide housing opportunities to families who wouldn't be able to own their own home without it," said Robert Bolar, foundation president.

The foundation oversees partnerships with local cities to purchase lots at a discount or with federal housing grants, and with local contractors like Smith, as well as subcontractors and suppliers who provide various services and supplies for free or at a low cost to build a home. A mortgage is then tailored to meet the family's unique circumstances.

Lindon Farrell, 4, hides behind his parents during a ceremony in which is parents were given the keys to a new home in Layton on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Photo: Colter Peterson, KSL)

"My religion teaches me that as I serve other people, I become more like my Savior, and that is what I'm striving in this life to do," Smith said. "I hope they are able to give their son the attention he deserves and not be a family that is stressed out trying to make ends meet."

It's the eighth Have a Heart Home Foundation home Smith has built in northern Utah. He also spends Christmases with his family in Mexico building homes for families who need them there.

"It's been really neat," he said, adding that the charity work is particularly rewarding for him and his family.

"They went from a two-income family to making much less," Smith said. "To be able to get into something like this is substantial."

The Farrells' new home was built on a quarter-acre lot that has been vacant for a long time and is next door to another Have a Heart Home Foundation home that was built 18 months ago under the same circumstances.

"It will open up a whole new world for them," Maxwell said. "It brings on the independence of home ownership and the pride of being homeowners. It's a whole new life."


Wendy Leonard

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