A young mother from southeast Iowa is having her only Christmas wish granted. Nineteen-year-old Danielle McCarty, of Keokuk, wanted to be able to spend the holidays with her new daughter at home.
McCarty’s child, Gabby, was born in February several months premature. The infant spent most of the year, most of her life, at University Hospitals in Iowa City.
McCarty says, “They told me that she wouldn’t live probably a week because she was so sick and she was three months early and she was only two pounds.” The baby had a heart defect known as cardiomyopathy and needed a heart transplant to survive.
Gabby doubled in size in two months, allowing doctors to place her on a waiting list for a new heart. A donor was found in August and U-of-I doctors performed the surgery on the then-six-month-old. The child has made a full recovery and is now home with her mother in Keokuk.
“I just can’t even explain how thankful we are that she has got a heart and that that family chose to donate,” McCarty says. She spoke at a reception for family members of organ donors in Iowa City on Thursday. Tony Hakes, spokesman for the Iowa Donor Network, says Gabby’s story is one of remarkable success.
“We’re so thankful to the family, her donor family that made that extremely courageous decision to give the gift of life,” Hakes says. “Gabby wouldn’t be here today if they didn’t do that.” Doctor Erik Edens, medical director of pediatric heart transplants at the medical center, says Gabby was one of the sickest children he’s ever seen survive the program.
By Mark Carlson, KCRG, Cedar Rapids