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Wadena's Princess Lily recovers from surgery

Lily Schey smiles in her hospital bed earlier this month following brain surgery. The five-year-old Wadena girl, who is battling arteriovenous malformation (AVM), returned home Jan. 12 after five days in a Minneapolis hospital.

Lily Schey spent Jan. 4 as local royalty, dressing up as a princess as hundreds of Wadena area residents united to raise thousands of dollars for the five-year-old girl who is fighting a rare brain condition.

Four days later, she entered the operating room at Minneapolis Children's Hospital for a risky surgery on an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in her brain, known as arteriovenous malformation (AVM). The family's fears, that the six-and-a-half hour operation might affect Lily's ability to see, talk, speak or walk, weren't realized.

"When we first got to see her, we were pretty happy she was talking ..." said Shannon Schey, Lily's mother. "She started trying to sing a couple minutes later."

"It went perfectly. There's nothing that went wrong with it at all. (The doctors) did a really good job down there."

It was Lily's second surgery in less than six months. In late July, after losing consciousness, she was airlifted to Children's Hospital, where surgeons removed a potato-sized piece of her brain during emergency surgery. But the AVM grew back, so Lily returned to the operating room this month for what her mother called "a much more controlled surgery."

"In four months they'll know if they got the whole thing out or if she'll have to do it again," Shannon Schey said. "There's always the chance it could grow back. But they're hoping they went back far enough on the artery so it won't."

Shannon Schey kept her friends updated on Lily's condition via Facebook.

On Jan. 10, she posted: "Lily has been moved off the icu and on to a floor with a play room!!! She loves it, we can't seem to slow her down!!!"

Several friends offered supportive comments, including "She is a princess!! Amazing!," "Amazing wonderful news," and "Lily, you make me cry ... but in a good way!! Loving you bunches today ..."

After five days in the hospital, Lily returned home to Wadena on Jan. 12. She's scheduled to get her stitches removed Wednesday, and her mom expects her to return kindergarten in Verndale soon after that.

"She's very normal," Shannon Schey said. "She wants to play. Now she's running and we can't quite slow her down ... It's shocking how good she's doing with this hard surgery."

Shannon Schey said the money raised at the Jan. 4 VFW benefit will go a long way to help pay for the medical bills and other expenses associated with Lily's illness. The "Princess Ball" also gave the little girl a chance to make some positive memories before surgery.

"(Lily) had a blast," her mom said.

Benefit organizer Jessica Roberts, a family friend, said the event was a great success, drawing more than 300 people, many of whom were dressed as princes and princesses. She thanked the VFW for hosting and the scores of other volunteers.

"It was wonderful," she said. "We had a lot more people come than we ever imagined. It exceeded our expectations for sure.

"I just hope what we raised reduces the family's anxiety and stress ... I feel very proud to live in a community where so many people come together to help someone they don't know."

Shannon Schey said she's overwhelmed by the community support, which is ongoing.

"Thank you to everybody. Everybody's been so wonderful. I can't believe how nice people can be," she said. "Every day, something comes in the mail or somebody's saying a prayer. It's just wonderful."

To donate to the Scheys, send checks to Mid-Central Federal Savings Bank (502 Jefferson St. S.) or give online at