Dottie was not even a week old and she was in the biggest fight of her life...a fight for life.
We were all praying, including Kathy, who showed up at prayer group with some of the cutest little shoes. They were for Dottie.
"Every girl's gotta have red shoes," Kathy said. "Especially when your name is Dorothy."
Baby Dorothy, "Dottie", was born 21 months ago to our niece Caitlin and husband Brad. An ultrasound had shown that the heart might be irregular, but they had no idea until she was born that she had only half a heart, and a very rare and serious version of it.
God's provision was unreal: the best surgeon in the world for this type of surgery served at Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital Children's Heart Center, right there in Houston. Parents from all over the world bring their children to this surgeon because he is the only one that offers this surgery.
Dottie had to fight through two lengthy open heart surgeries within the first two months -- the doctor reconstructed the right side of her heart and replaced two valves.
Just two months later, after catching a cold, she went into respiratory failure and was admitted for another surgery. Once stabilized, two months later, she underwent surgery again to replace two valves and redirect blood flow.
Then, just before her first birthday, doctors implanted a pacemaker in Dottie's chest to correct an arrhythmia issue, bringing her to a total of 97 days in the hospital her first year.
Though Dottie will need smaller surgeries to replace worn out valves when she is older, she is a healthy little girl whose heart continues to grow stronger and she has caught up on every physical milestone.
She is truly a walking miracle who should be able to live a healthy life without limitations. She is joyfully living out the meaning of her name, Dorothy -- "gift from God".
So, HAPPY HEART DAY in honor of our family's heart hero, baby Dottie!
Remember, God loves you! I hope you've got your red shoes on, ready to receive the good things God has for your heart, too -- as the song goes, "I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart to stay."
You can read more details about Dottie's journey in an article in the Memorial Hermann Foundation's publication (pp. 10-12).
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