Celebrating a baby’s 1st birthday is such a momentous occasion for any parent, but for the parents of a little baby girl named Rebecca – it was a miracle.
For Christy Brown, she wasn’t sure if her baby girl would survive to even see her first birthday. A feeling that no parent should ever have to experience. It all started with Rebecca was just 4-months-old.
Normally, during the first few months (and years!) of a child’s life, they grow like a week. However, Brown started to grow increasingly concerned when Rebecca wasn’t gaining any weight.
After numerous trips to the doctor, test after test, and month after month, the Brown family couldn’t get answers to their daughter’s mysterious lack of weight gain.
Brown was getting desperate to help her daughter and ended up bringing Rebecca to a gastrointestinal doctor at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) – which happened to be a two-hour drive away. Little did Brown know, the CHOA would soon essentially become the family’s second home.
“He [the gastro doctor] asked, ‘Does she always breathe like that?'” Brown told Good Morning America.
Brown told the doctor that ‘yes,’ indeed her daughter always breathed a bit labored and the doctor’s eyes widened. Immediately, Rebecca was rushed to see a cardiologist. By the end of the day, the poor little baby was in the ICU.
“The left side of her heart was double the normal size,” Brown said. “It was pushing against her rib cage. It looks like a 7-month-old that’s had a massive heart attack; there was so much damage to the left side of her heart.”
As it turned out, Rebecca had been born with anomalous origin of the left coronary artery from the pulmonary artery (ALCAPA) syndrome – a rare and congenital heart defect.
The Brown family made the heartbreaking decision to have their baby daughter receive open-heart surgery to help correct the problem. Sadly, it didn’t work. Then, Rebecca was given a Berlin heart or artificial heart pump. This was a band-aid until she could receive a heart transplant.
“It’s mentally exhausting,” Brown said.
While Rebecca and her mom were basically living at the hospital, Brown’s husband and their 13-year-old son stayed at home, waiting nervously. At one point in time, Rebecca had suffered a brain bleed that nearly took her life. But once she pulled through, the family still held onto hope that Rebecca would soon get a heart transplant.
“A few of my relatives told me they had dreams where Rebecca got a heart for her birthday,” Brown said. “I thought we’d be celebrating her first birthday in the hospital.”
Finally, the Brown family’s prayers were answered. Just a few weeks before Rebecca’s 1st birthday, the doctor said there was a heart.
“Of course you don’t wish for anything bad to happen to another person’s child,” Brown said. “But we are so grateful another family chose to have their child live on through Rebecca.”
Not only did Rebecca finally receive the heart transplant she so desperately needed – she was finally able to go home.
A month after receiving her new heart, the Brown’s say that Rebecca is smiling and sitting up – all very optimistic milestones for the baby.
“The level of appreciation and gratitude I have for all the people at Children’s, there’s not enough time in my lifetime to thank them,” Brown said. “They saved her life.”
Watch more on Rebecca’s story in the video below and hear Brown recall the moment she received the news.
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H/T: Little Things