In 2011 Gwen and Greg Lemley were serving as foster parents to three siblings. Months into the siblings being in their care, the biological mother became pregnant again with another baby that would be entering the foster care system. However, this child would not be like the rest. They would be adopting a heart child. She would be born with a complex congenital heart defect – HLHS. “We were told she most likely would not survive,” Gwen remembers.
Against all odds, Eve did survive and after recovering from her first surgery, was cleared to go home. Despite being liable if Eve did not survive, the Lemelys chose to take her in. “We knew the right thing to do in our hearts, to take care of this little baby and love her as our own,” Gwen said. Even with being in and out of the hospital in the months following, Eve continued to grow and do well heart wise.
“I can vividly remember the day that I walked in her room and the entire team was there. They were unable to keep her sats up to normal, her lung had collapsed, and the day had just begun.”
She had her second open heart surgery at five months old. “It was so hard seeing your baby pre-operation, happy and smiling, and then seeing your baby after open heart surgery,” Gwen said. Five days into recovery Eve was still not doing well. Gwen said, “I can vividly remember the day that I walked in her room and the entire team was there. They were unable to keep her sats up to normal, her lung had collapsed, and the day had just begun.”
Due to dropping oxygen saturations she needed emergency surgery. “I can remember walking down that long hall after being let back in to see Eve and wondering if she was brain dead or still there,” Gwen said. The surgery was a success and after spending her first Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day in the hospital, she finally went home.
After three weeks of being home Eve was rushed back to the hospital due to a fever. Once there she coded twice, had to have CPR and was put in the PCICU on a ventilator. “Eve was now in respiratory, renal, heart, and liver failure,” Gwen said. Through what was nothing short of a miracle, Eve recovered. She had her last surgery in April 2015 and officially became a Lemley that same year. Eve was diagnosed with Autism, traumatic brain injury, and cerebral palsy. She is G-tube dependent but is doing great and is a happy little girl.
“Hopefully one day parents like me will not have to experience these fears because of research and solutions to these issues.”
During their seven-week hospital stay after Eve coded, Gwen crocheted her daughter some church socks. “In faith I made the socks and told the nurses that Eve was going to grow to wear these socks,” Gwen said. The other day at church Eve did wear those socks. Adopting a heart child is no easy task. Heart families go through days, weeks, sometimes months in the hospital being faced with death. No family should ever have to endure this. “Hopefully one day parents like me will not have to experience these fears because of research and solutions to these issues,” Gwen said. We need your help in finding a cure.
Read another amazing story oh a heart warrior with HLHS here!