Meet our beautiful daughter, Gabriella!
Gabriella was born with a congenital heart defect, which at birth did not require immediate attention. A few months later, Gabriella didn't seem like herself. She was having difficulties feeding, was being very fussy and was putting a lot of effort into her breathing. She was taken to the hospital, from which she was soon dismissed and sent home. However, she did not seem to be improving, infact everything seemed to be getting worse. Once again they went back to the hospital, where Gabriella was admitted with basic care so she could be observed.
While at the hospital, Gabriella went into cardiogenic shock. This is a medical emergency, and as procedures were undertaken Gabby was admitted to the Stollery Children's Hospital into the PCICU - Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, where the amazing team fought hard to discover the cause of the shock so that they could save her life. Cardiogenic shock in itself has a current death rate of between 50% - 75%. If the reason for the shock is not discovered and treated soon enough, this rate can be much higher. Gabriella toughed it out through all of the tests they put her through.
When they determined the valve regurge within her heart, along with the large left to right shut, was the cause, we knew that open heart surgery was the next step. The hard part was getting Gabby strong enough so that her success rate would be higher. This task was difficult because her strength had been worsening as we awaited a cause, during which time she underwent a stroke and a few seizures.
The day finally came, October 25th, 2014. The open heart surgery was mostly successful, and Gabriella began her recovery. Although the surgery was fairly successful, her valves still had a small amount of regurge. This would require a subsequent surgery in the future, but for the moment the focus was just on getting Gabby stronger and gaining some weight. As Gabby improved, she was moved from the PCICU to the Intermediate Care Unit.
A few ups and downs occupied her recovery in the Stollery, including being put in isolation for a while, Gabriella returned home in early December. She was still on a feeding tube and required many medications to be administered multiple times each day. Fast forward 9 months later to a very happy girl, still thriving and growing at home, with no feeding tube and just on a small portion of the medications she went home with.
Gabriella loves peek-a-boo and is a master at rolling over. She is getting very close to crawling, and loves to be supported as she walks all over the place. Head on over to Gabby's Big Heart Facebook page to see pictures and videos of all the improvements Gabby has made!
Keep scrolling for our 2016 update...
Update to 2016:
Gabriella is now almost 2 and is a full force toddler! She is down to just her one medication twice daily and is attending semi-annual cardiologist visits. Thankfully her heart defect has not gotten worse with her growing this far, but we are told it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when she will require her next operation. The surgical options she faces are not the best so we are praying each and every day that her heart continues to stay strong and will provide the best possible base for her surgeons when the time comes for her next operation...
Gabriella is a very independant minded toddler with a love for every day she is given. She takes risks, smiles every chance she can and is a big piggy! She loves everything Frozen and princesses, books, bubbles, coloring and playing outisde. She is really quite a chatterbox and a joker - just like her daddy! She makes life so very interesting and we are so thankful for her presence with us today!
Update to 2017
Gabriella is becoming a very indepentantly minded toddler, exploring every aspect of her world and testing any limits presented to her. She loves going to daycare and visiting her family, and fills her days with painting, colouring, all things Paw Patrol, and loves to sing!
Health wise, Gabriella has increased her frequency of Cardiologist appointments as her valve leakage seems to be increasing since previous appointments. In January, Gabriella had to be admitted for day surgery to undergo a sedated 3D echocardiogram which should indicate very accurate results in terms of the condition of her heart, and will give us a very good of what the surgical team would be dealing with in her next surgery.
As there is a large amount of uncertainty in terms of her health and growth, we do our best to make sure we enjoy every single moment with our little angel and give her every experience that we possibly can, allowing her to live life to the fullest.