Mari's #HeartChallenge Heroes
We are participaing in our second annual Splash N' Dash. Here is our story and why we love this cause:
After a fabulous pregnancy, Marien Blakely was born April 14th on her daddy’s birthday. When she was born, we had ourselves a 7lb 13oz bundle of joy with dark fuzzy hair. We took her home to join her sister, Adalyn, who was elated over her arrival.
At home, everything went seemingly well as we settled into our new routine. I was off for 12 weeks before returning to work and Mari heading to daycare. After the first week, Mari was a little congested and had “cold” in her eyes. She had her three month pictures scheduled for Sunday. After sleeping through her pictures, I decided to take her to her pediatrician to have her checked out (suspecting an ear infection after all those first week daycare germs). We were sent home with a prescription for amoxicillin.
Mari awoke when we got home, but she wasn’t interested in eating. She spit up more than normal. Her breathing became increasingly labored and I knew something was not right, suspecting pneumonia. In the wee hours of the morning, I knew it was time to get her to the hospital.
Upon arrival to the hospital, the triage nurse was unable to get an oxygen reading on her tiny little toe so they moved us on back to a ER room. After this point, things are kind of a blur. They could not get a blood pressure. Her insulin was so low it would not register. They couldn’t hit a vein due to dehydration. And my sweet Mari became completely lethargic. I stood back watching an amazing team scrambling around my baby trying to save her. Then came x-rays and many other tests. Diagnosis: Coarctation of the Aorta. The good news was the condition was correctible by surgery.
We then took a helicopter ride to Vanderbilt. Upon arrival, they took my baby for more tests and to prep for surgery. The doctors then gave us the news no parent ever wants to hear. She was “very sick”. Heart Failure. Kidney Failure. Liver Failure. Digestive System Failure. The first step had to be surgery to correct the narrowing of the aorta. Due to the narrowing, Mari’s heart had worked overtime to pump blood. Her heart had become enlarged and inefficient and was no longer supplying the essential oxygen to vital organs.
Our little fighter, with many prayers, made it through surgery. The care Mari received at Vanderbilt by everyone from surgeons to cardiologists to the nurses in the pediatric cardiac ICU saved her life - absolutely top notch care! After a few days her kidneys started working. Then her liver started working. She slowly started eating. But her heart was slow to recover. After 15 days they sent us home, with strict orders for minimal exposure to germs. Her heart simply could not handle becoming sick. They gave us three months for Mari’s heart to improve or we would go on the transplant list. Mari is a fighter and she continued to improve. At a checkup several months later, her cardiologist said that he was amazed at how her heart looked considering her history. She eventually had all of her medications discontinued and only has to see the cardiologist annually.
Fast forward nearly 4 years. We now live in Kentucky. Mari is thriving. Lance and I found a cardiologist in Louisville and we are so thankful for that. We love Norton Children's Hospital but they lack the pediatric cardiac specialty that we had at Vanderbilt. Jennifer Lawrence pledged a $2 Million gift to Norton Children's Hospital to fund a Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. She then challenged the community to raise the other $2 million to make this happen.
In Mari’s honor, we want to help. We want this PCICU for Mari, if ever needed. We want the PCICU for other families who will need it. We want the PCICU to save lives. We are asking for your help to make this happen. Please join us as part of our team, Mari’s #HeartChallenge Heroes, to make this PCICU a reality. You can participate in the 5K, send your kids through the 1K water obstacle course, or simply give a donation. Every little bit helps. Thank you for honoring our Mari!
-Lance and Michelle
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