Sunday, June 12, 2011

Amelia's Miracle Heart

I didn't even know where to begin to write this post.

This post is about a little girl who was born perfectly healthy.  Ten weeks later her parents were praying she survived the night.

I'm going to let her mom, an amazing woman, a woman that just exudes warmth and kindness from every pore in her body, tell Amelia's story.

Our 20-month-old daughter, Amelia, was born a healthy full-term baby in October of 2009.  When Amelia was two-and-a-half months old, during the week of Christmas, she caught a seemingly harmless virus and had a runny nose.  

On New Year's Eve, she began having trouble breathing, and we learned at the ICU that she was in acute heart failure due to viral myocarditis. A virus had attacked her heart and caused it to enlarge and render it unable to pump blood through her body. 

Amelia's cardiologist told us she had a 50-50 chance of surviving that night.

Miraculously, she responded very quickly to the medications and ventilator treatments and one week later, was released from the hospital. We were overjoyed and prayed that her heart would continue to heal.

That was not to be. 

A short two weeks later, Amelia was again having trouble breathing and had lost weight. She was rushed to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, where a team of pediatric cardiologists told us her heart had deteriorated so quickly that she would need a heart transplant. 

A heart transplant. For a three month old baby. They had never seen a child with a heart in her state recover on its own. 

We prepared ourselves for a lengthy wait, and were told to expect a three to six month wait period for a heart transplant. Amelia was put on the waiting list for a new heart in early February 2010.
    
In March of 2010, Amelia's heart function had deteriorated to less than five percent of what it should be, and we made the decision to put her on a Berlin Heart. The Berlin Heart is a mechanical device that is surgically connected to the original heart, and pumps blood for the left ventricle. It is a life-saving machine that allows heart transplant patients to grow and thrive as they wait for a donor heart to become available. Amelia was on the Berlin Heart for four months. 

During that time she suffered 
a brain hemmorage,
three brain surgeries, 
two open-heart surgeries, 
a stroke, 
and multiple infections. 

Through it all, Amelia was a fighter. 

She amazed us on a daily basis. 

We quickly learned to treat every day as a gift. We prayed constantly for her continued strength and for the gift of a heart to become available for transplant. We also prayed for her future donor family, knowing they would face a devastating loss and a difficult decision.

On July 2, 2010, after six months in the hospital, Amelia was blessed with a new miracle heart. A donor heart became available that was a perfect match for Amelia. 

The morning that we heard the news, my husband and I were overwhelmed with relief, gratitude, and unimaginable sorrow for the donor family. Our own daughter had faced death many times, and we could not imagine how hard it must have been for the donor's family to look beyond their own grief, and selflessly give life to another child. 

For their gift, we are eternally grateful. 

We continue to pray for our donor family, that they be comforted by the fact that their child's heart is thriving and beating inside Amelia. Because of their gift, Amelia has a second chance at life. 

Amelia came home one month after she received her new heart. She celebrated her first birthday last October, which was a milestone she would not have met without her new heart.  We have watched her learn to sit up, stand, speak her first words, and play with her big brother in the comfort of our home. Looking at her today, you would never know that she had at one time been so sick. We know what a miracle she is, and what a miracle her new heart is. We are going to raise Amelia in a fashion that ensures she recognizes every day as a gift from God and therefore lives life to its fullest.  

Here she is today, with her parents and her sweet Poppy who was visiting from South America. Today, she is a thriving, smiling, miracle child.
And I simply cannot forget about her older brother. A superhero in his own right- one who will only come out stronger for what his family has endured.

Have you made the life saving decision to be an organ donor?
  • 110,586 people are currently waiting for an organ.
  • 18 people die each day waiting for an organ.
  • 1 organ donor can save up to eight lives.

It took less than 20 seconds. 
If you have never considered it before, I urge you to consider it now.

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