Our Lauren Elise graced us with her birth on June 3, 2008 at 8:13 am. She weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces and was 19 inches long. Here is her story…
On February 20th, 2008, at 24 weeks gestation, Lauren was diagnosed with a number of congenital heart defects; tricuspid atresia, dextrocardioversion, atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, malposition of aorta, and hypoplastic right ventricle. Lauren's diagnosis was devastating for us, however, her cardiology team gave us hope that surgical interventions were possible. After consultations with her cardiology team in Tulsa, Oklahoma, our family decided the best place for Lauren's treatment would be at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, TX. CMC has been ranked Best Children's Hospital, Cardiology and Heart Surgery, by U.S. News and World report. During the remainder of our pregnancy, we visited CMC routinely for fetal echocardiograms, surgical consultations, and high risk obstetric appointments. She was scheduled for C-section delivery on June 3, 2008, at Parkland Hospital. Lauren was born vibrantly pink and perfectly beautiful! She was stabilized and moved to the Cardio-Vascular Intensive Care Unit immediately after birth for monitoring.
To everyone's joy, Lauren did not require surgical intervention until she was 10 days old. We were able to bond with her, feed her, bathe her, and love on her until her surgical day arrived. On June 13, 2008, Lauren underwent the Blalock-Taussing Shunt surgery. This was the first of three scheduled surgeries to improve the function of her heart. Lauren came out of surgery with few complications, and we welcomed her home on July 1, 2008.
The next four months with Lauren were somewhat routine. She was monitored closely by local cardiologists and her pediatrician. While life was somewhat sheltered, we were able to enjoy our new baby at home. Lauren thrived, and gained the appropriate amount of weight in four months to prepare her for the 2nd planned surgery. On October 13, 2008, Lauren underwent the Glenn Shunt. This surgery removed the BT Shunt and began the process of rerouting blood flow to her heart and lungs. Since Lauren did not have a right ventricle, this procedure was necessary to take pressure off the left ventricle, allowing passive blood flow to the lungs. Lauren was in and out of the hospital in 5 days! This was yet another blessing for our family! We once again brought our precious baby girl home to live a "normal" life.
The next 3 years were wonderful. Lauren grew appropriately, showed no outward signs of the seriousness of her defect, met all developmental milestones, and brought joy to our lives each and every day. We did everything we would normally do with our children – took her and her big brother to the park, zoo, pool, movies, birthday parties….it was a "normal" life, just a little extra GermX in use at all times! We lived each day with happiness, laughter, joy and love! Her life was a gift. Lauren was a beautiful, vibrant little girl, full of life, love, and hope!
Shortly after celebrating Lauren's 3rd birthday, we were scheduled for her final surgery, the Fontan procedure. While we had apprehension about the surgery, we were excited to finally be done, finally be able to move on with our lives – no more surgeries to face!
On July 20, 2011, Lauren underwent the Fontan procedure. She tolerated surgery well, and we were blessed to see her immediately following surgery. Sadly, Lauren suffered cardiac arrest while being transferred to the recovery room in the CVICU. The medical staff placed Lauren on ECMO, heavy sedation, and took all precautions to preserve brain function. Lauren fought valiantly for 3 days. She was successfully removed from ECMO, but had suffered devastating brain trauma as a result of the initial cardiac arrest.
Lauren was surrounded by her parents, grandparents, aunt, and uncles. She was baptized by the hospital chaplain and had much love surrounding her. At 8:30 pm on July 22, 2011 our precious little girl was welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus was with her all the time. She now awaits us to join her for eternity.
Lauren's life was a precious and wonderful blessing to our family and all who knew her. She will live on in our hearts forever. Her story has touched the lives of many and it is our prayer that this continues. Lauren's legacy lives on through her many examples of courage, strength, love, bravery, faith, and hope. Her legacy also lives on through the works of this Foundation, for which she is not only the namesake, but the inspiration.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
Psalm 139: 13-18