It is hard to believe that two years ago at this time we were living in Seattle, waiting for a heart transplant and wondering if it would ever come. Carla was listed at Primary Children's in March of 2010, but we had been waiting in Seattle since November of 2011. Her plastic bronchitis was only mildly horrific in Seattle and being a block from the Children's Hospital made life a little more bearable. Super high antibodies from having three previous heart surgeries made finding a perfect match very difficult. So much so that when the hospital called me around 8:30 p.m., on November 14, 2012, I was in disbelief of what they were saying to me. We had just finished our prayers and had closed our eyes to rest. That day I had been anguishing over another heart child, Kylie. She was in Salt Lake, waiting for her perfect heart as well. Kylie was very sick and I had been crying and praying that she would get her gift of life soon. Unfortunately, Kylie's perfect heart never came. But on this night, after praying so hard for Kylie, we got "the call". I hung up the phone, got out of bed and told Bobby what was going on. Carla was crying and we needed to comfort her, call our families and get to the hospital. We, being experienced hospital goers, did not drop everything and run out the door. We called our families, let Carla talk to everyone and calm down with some Wii. As Carla calmed down, we packed our bags, and made sure the apartment was cleaned up enough for company (because we knew everyone would be on their way). We arrived at the hospital about an hour after the call, and were settled in to a room for the night. Surgery was scheduled for the next morning... It all seemed so unreal, and I wasn't going to let myself think it was real until we knew for sure. There are times when people get the call and then later find out it was a false alarm because the donor organ isn't in good shape. You never know for sure until the surgeon says everything is a go. For Carla it was a go. Justin's perfect heart was somehow Carla's perfect match, and it fit into her chest cavity like it was meant to be there. A lot of the time a donor organ is either too big or too small for the chest cavity.
I cannot even begin to express the thankfulness we feel toward's Justin's family. I can only imagine what they were going through. No parent should have to make the decision to donate their child's organs, or not. And their decision has changed our life so much.
Since receiving her gift of life, Carla has grown about a foot! She still has issues (as every transplant patient does) but her quality of life is so much better than we could have ever expected. Much better than it was with her half a heart. Her fingers, toes and lips are pink, instead of purple. And, she can enjoy normal activities, like other children. I am thankful that she was so young through all of her surgeries because I don't think she remembers a lot about being so sick. She does cry and gets upset if she sees pictures of herself after surgery. We have appointments, medicines, blood draws, vocal cord procedures, infections and vitals. But, that is just part of our "new normal" it has always been her "normal".
So now, I guess this whole post was reflecting on a child that once was, because Carla's "new normal" is to have good health. Here are a couple of pictures of her living her "new normal".
|Roller Skating for the first time at her classmate's birthday party. I was a bundle of nerves, but she did alright :)|
|Being cute with Mario. She can't get enough of the dog.|
|I couldn't get both of them to look at me at the same time. Carla looks so cute in this one though :)|
|After dropping Carla off at school yesterday Mario was waiting in her seat when I came back to the car.|
|Yesterday morning, after taking her meds. She is such a little sweetheart.|