Chance to ‘pay it forward’ prompts mother of toddler who had open heart surgery to host blood and marrow drive
Little Annabelle, the daughter of Chicago Ridge’s Karen and Richard Moran, would need open heart surgery to correct the congenital heart defects she was born with 22 months earlier.
“I was in complete shock,” Karen said upon hearing the news. “I had known since I was pregnant that our child had some type of heart issue but we didn’t know the severity of it.”
Karen is diabetic and her doctors warned her congenital heart anomalies occur more often in infants born to diabetic mothers. Her first pregnancy was complication-free and her son Joey was born healthy. But shortly after Annabelle’s birth she was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, heart valve pulmonary stenosis and a bicuspid aortic valve.
There was, however, the possibility these heart conditions would never pose a serious threat to Annabelle, and that appeared to be the case as her regular doctor’s appointments at Lurie Children’s Hospital showed no change to her condition.
“She was always stable and it got to the point where we would go into an appointment expecting her to be stable,” Karen said.
That all changed during Annabelle’s regularly scheduled appointment this past April. Doctors informed Karen and Richard their daughter’s heart condition worsened and would require surgery.
Knowing Annabelle would need blood during surgery, Karen and Richard contacted LifeSource’s Special Donations Team and arranged for blood donations to be made on Annabelle’s behalf.
“The response from our family and friends was really overwhelming,” Karen said. “We had more than 20 people donate.”
Karen said those who responded ranged from committed donors who give blood every couple of months to those who hadn’t donated in more than 20 years.
“We even had some first-time donors,” she said. “It was wonderful to see so many people donate blood in honor of Annabelle.”
In an effort to “pay it forward,” Karen and Richard worked with LifeSource to host “Annabelle’s Heart Journey Blood Drive and Bone Marrow Registration” this past July 8 at Our Lady of the Ridge in Chicago Ridge. The drive celebrated Annabelle’s successful recovery from open heart surgery and also collected important units of blood for those in need.
“I felt that if people came out and gave blood for my daughter than I should return the favor and help others who may be in a similar situation,” Karen said of the impetus for the drive. “You really never know when you might need blood. It’s important to have units available.”
A month after the surgery Karen said her daughter is doing “amazing” and will be in attendance at the blood drive.
“If it wasn’t for the scar on her chest you’d never know she was sick,” Karen said. “Annabelle was just at her older brother’s baseball game and it was only three weeks post operation. It’s amazing how resilient she is. She’s my heart warrior.”
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