This morning Rachel was beaming as I dropped her off for the first day of school.

I watched as she ran off with excitement to greet her classmates. As the father of a sweet little girl whose heart is very fragile, this was a moment of great pride, but also of dread.

Rachel was born with a broken heart, a defect known as Tricuspid Atresia. All her life, just one of her two ventricles has worked, pumping blood to her heart and lungs, but starving the rest of her body of oxygen-rich blood.

It’s a scary thing we live with every day.

I still remember the first time we met with cardiologist, Dr. Tiscar Cavalle-Garrido. She told us that our toddler would need several risky surgeries for the rest of her body to get the blood it needs. If these surgeries were to fail, the only option left would be for Rachel to undergo a perilous heart-lung transplant.

As you can imagine, we felt our lives were spiraling out of control…

Thanks to the miracle hands of cardiac surgeon, Dr. Christo Tchervenkov, and to everyone at the Children’s, Rachel has been given a chance at life. Thankfully you’ve been there, too.

Unless you see the scar on her upper chest, you would think Rachel is a healthy child. But there’s always a risk though of a stroke or a heart attack. Yes, a heart attack. At 7 years old…

To this day, it’s still hard for me to find the right balance between being protective of her without obsessively monitoring her every move.

We let Rachel be a kid as best we can but she is limited in what she can do: she can run, but not for long distances. She can swim but cannot overexert herself. But when she does, her face starts to turn blue. We can hear her struggling to breathe. It gets scary. As she grows older, she is better at listening to what her body is trying to tell her…

But I can say without a doubt that Rachel wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the Children’s.

Over the years, we’ve been seen by almost every department in the hospital. Last year alone, we spent at least the equivalent of 2 months there. The Children’s doesn’t feel like a sterile hospital, it feels like home.

You care deeply for the Children’s and its young patients. This is why I hope families like mine can count on your generous support.

With my deepest appreciation,

David, proud father of Rachel

P.S. Our daughter has undergone three major heart operations and is being closely monitored by the cardiac team to avoid a heart-lung transplant. The Children’s has become our second home, and you, our extended family. Please renew your support today to help children like Rachel.



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