Thursday, February 14, 2013

Day 14 - Isabella Rivera

Isabella has been home for 9 months, yet it feels like she has been our daughter forever.  I cannot imagine our lives without this little firecracker; she has truly captured the hearts of everyone around her.

In September of 2011 Jose and I decided to move forward with our decision to adopt from China.  To be completely honest, I was not familiar with the adoption process and looking back on it now I realize that we jumped right in with blinders on, but I wouldn’t change a single decision we made.

A few days after submitting our agency’s required application, I came across the picture of a precious 2 year old whose special need was listed as “CHD”.  I requested her file and submitted our Letter of Intent for this little girl known as “Maggie” on our agency’s special focus list.  We received pre-approval a week later!! 

I didn’t have Isabella’s file reviewed by a specialist until after we received preapproval.  I do not recommend this to anyone, especially on your first adoption, but from the beginning I had this unexplainable peace about everything. 

I remember the first conversation I had with Isabella’s cardiologist.  I was on my way home from work and I think that time stood still for the ten minutes we were on the phone. 

He told me that it looked like Isabella had Tricuspid Atresia, large VSD and single ventricle heart.  I don’t remember much of that conversation; once he mentioned heart & lung transplant I think I stopped breathing.
We requested several tests be done while Isabella waited in China, but her orphanage would not comply.  They insisted that she was “fine” and “not sick”. 

We expedited almost every phase of our adoption and traveled less than eight months from PA. 
But nothing could have prepared me for what I saw the first time Isabella was placed in my arms; lifeless, purple lips, blue nail beds, clubbed fingers and toes, gray complexion and skin and bones.  But this physically lifeless little girl had the biggest smile and was so full of love.

 I called the cardiologist immediately and he said to keep her calm, avoid stress and keep her indoors. 

We were terrified that Isabella wouldn’t make the airplane trip home.  Our agency was able to expedite our Consulate Appointment in Guangzhou allowing us to leave a few days earlier than planned.

We were home on a Friday and in the cardiologist’s office that Monday morning.  Isabella’s oxygen saturation level was trending in the mid to high 20’s.  Her ECHO confirmed the original diagnosis of Tricuspid Atresia, single ventricle.  The doctor was most concerned about her “low” heart function and requested an emergency heart catherization for the following week.   

The heart cath showed that China was wrong and that Isabella WAS operable – the pressures in her lungs were good – even though blood had been beating against them for 2 ½ years.  The Thoracic Surgeon said that just the face that Isabella survived the 15 hour plane ride with O2 levels in the 20’s shows that she is a survivor and a living miracle.

Isabella had her first heart surgery, the Glenn, on June 6, 2012.  It went perfectly and we are awaiting her next surgery, the  Fontan, late Spring of this year. 

Isabella is now pink, full of life and energy and so very very happy!!!  She is the sweetest little girl and loves so BIG.  We can’t imagine our lives without this little beauty and we wouldn't want life any other way!!!

You can read more about Isabella's journey here


LaKasha Strickland said...

Wow,Traci I didn't know that she was so very sick when y'all got her? Sometimes I think God wants us to have to clue so we with not said NO! Lol I think she was having her heart surgery right about the time we were veiwing our bella's file. Wow awesome he is that as he fixes one he is already sending another and calling another. Praise God! May God blesses Isabella's heart, life and family.

Drea said...

Thank you for sharing your story! She is absolutely precious! Sharing the journey with other heart moms gives me such strength.

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