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When Candice was pregnant with her second child, she could not have been more excited. At her nineteen week appointment, she and her husband, Mark, and their daughter, Victoria, found out that they were going to add a second girl to their family. They left that appointment celebrating and sharing the news. Then they received a phone call that began a journey that would lead them to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh.
Just a few days later, Candice and Mark met with their physician. He told them that the sonogram showed that their daughter had multiple heart defects. What they didn’t know was the extent of these defects.
Candice’s care needed to be transferred to a hospital more than an hour away. There, they would be able to take care of her daughter immediately following her birth. After traveling back and forth for months, Isabelle was born on May 24th.
One week later, Isabelle was scheduled to have her first heart surgery but complications arose. It was then Candice and Mark were presented with the idea of Isabelle having a heart transplant.
At less than a month old, Isabelle was flown to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC to be evaluated. The doctors deemed her a complicated case and it took them a while to figure out what they were going to do. To meet the qualifications for a heart transplant, she would first need another surgery. This surgery, called the Norwood, is a three-stage heart surgery that will span over the next two to three years of her life. The first step was done immediately and went extremely well. The physicians and nurses were thrilled with her recovery. Some nurses even commented that she was recovering faster than any other Norwood patient they have seen. Because of her progress, Candice and Mark could now hold their little girl. It was the first time. Even big sister Victoria got in on the action.
The second step in the procedure also went well and Isabelle will wait until the age of two-three for the final step. Her parents have been told that as Isabelle gets older, a heart transplant may be needed.
During this entire process, Candice and Mark stayed at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh. The Ronald McDonald House gave them the opportunity to be by Isabelle’s side every step of the way and share in every milestone their courageous newborn daughter achieved.
Candice stayed at the House every day and Mark drove to Pittsburgh from New York on the weekends with Victoria. This meant Candice could spend quality time with her older daughter as well. While at the House, they were able to have meals together and one evening, Candice and Victoria attended a movie night which was hosted by a volunteer group for all of the families to enjoy. It meant so much to both mom and daughter to have these moments together.
After three months, Isabelle was strong enough to be transferred to a hospital closer to home. They are excited because this means they are one step closer to their goal of all being home and living under one roof. But until that day comes, they will continue to cross each bridge of their journey just as they did at the Ronald McDonald House, together, as a family.