“When you meet Evie for the first time you see a happy, funny, sweet, smart girl. You would think she was a typical 8-year-old - not a child who has been through countless surgeries, testing, emergency room visits.
Evie’s medical journey started before she was born. At 20-weeks-pregnant, we received the devastating news that Evie had a congenital heart defect called tricuspid atresia. Her right ventricle and right side of her heart was too small to do its job. Our lives were completely turned upside down. Instead of picking out nursery colors, we were researching heart defects and the life expectancy of our child.
Handing over our three-week-old baby to the surgeons and anesthesiologist for her first heart open-heart surgery was the hardest day of our lives. That initial surgery was successful in that it allowed her body to grow and get bigger – it bought us time until her heart was able to tell us that it needed more help. Last year it was decided that another major open-heart surgery was the only way to give her the best life she could have.
The anxiety that Evie felt about this was something no parent wants their child to feel. Fortunately, it was also when we found out Evie was eligible for a wish through Make-A-Wish. When asked, she had no hesitation – ‘I wish to go to Disney World!’
Planning the trip with her and dreaming about it really helped us focus on something positive instead of her upcoming surgery. The entire trip really was a dream come true – from the special resort we stayed in, to being able to ride any ride with little to no wait, to meeting all of the princesses. It was life-changing for our entire family.
Evie is a thrill seeker and her favorite ride is Space Mountain. Thanks to the ‘Genie Pass’ she was able to ride five times in a row, without skipping a beat. The entire wish experience was a major, necessary distraction. I don’t think any of us thought about her upcoming surgery once. The wish trip was not just joyful and fun for us all, it provided the healing we desperately needed as a family.
On June 6, 2019 at Boston Children’s Hospital, Evie underwent her second open-heart surgery. When the surgeon finally came out after to speak to us, the only words I heard him say were, ‘Everything was perfect!’ After nearly four weeks, we were able to venture home.
We owe our life to the unbelievable medical professionals who made a new heart for our daughter. Evie went from a pale-skinned and lethargic girl to unstoppable! She is now happier, loves playing hockey, and has proven over and over that she is a brave, strong warrior. She is showing the world that it is possible to live an amazing life with a congenital heart defect.”
Make-A-Wish has been highlighting young heart warriors throughout the month of February for American Heart Month. Click the link to learn more about the impact wishes have on children faced with critical illness.
Do your part during American Heart Month and give from your heart to make more wishes possible for kids like Evie.