Lucy was brought to her new parents, Lauren and Chad, in a smoky hotel lobby in Nanchang, China, on a very hot Sunday, June 23, 2013. She came straight from the hospital where she had been battling pneumonia for three weeks.
Holding her for the first time, Lauren and Chad knew Lucy was still sick with a high fever. She was so frail and tiny to be 18 months old. She weighed a mere 14 pounds and could barely hold her head up. They knew before the adoption that Lucy was going to need major heart surgery. A complete diagnosis back in the U.S. revealed Lucy would need much more.
Lucy was born with a significant hole in the wall separating her heart’s lower chamber as well as two other cardiac defects. Her heart and lungs had to work overtime just to keep her alive. Doctors also found dangerous pooling of blood on the surface of her brain – diagnosed as shaken baby syndrome. This was not out of line with Lucy’s tough beginnings. She had been abandoned in a poor village when two days old – and spent her first months in an under-staffed orphanage where she was fed too little, and left in a crib for too long.
Lucy’s other diagnoses included a chromosomal defect, malnutrition, a duplicate (polydactyl) thumb, hip dysplasia, flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly), leg length discrepancy, kidney swelling, a deformed right ear, hearing loss, and eye problems including misalignment, palsy and a drooping eyelid.
Since her first major heart surgery in August of 2013, Lucy has had eight other surgeries and procedures. Six of those have taken place at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. Lauren says, “She has had amazing care during each admittance. Dr. Julie Zielinkski did an amazing job on her reconstructive hip surgery. Our favorite nurses are the PICU and we think they are top notch.”
Lucy still has more healing work to come. Her heart is continually being watched and checked by her cardiologist, Dr. Gerald Johnson, and the whole cardiac team. She may have to have her leaky aortic valve fixed by another open heart surgery as well as other surgeries in her future for other anomalies. Lauren says, “Almost all of her specialist are at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger and we know we are in the best care when we are there.”
Lucy may have been born with many huge road blocks in her path, but she has not let that take over her life. She is beautiful, giving, loving, friendly, and light-hearted – but also a fierce and brave fighter. She has been through more hardship in the first three years of her life than anyone should have to face. Yet she never gives up and wakes up every day with a smile on her face. She loves her Daddy and her siblings so much and gives hugs and kisses freely and often. Lauren says, “We have been home from China for two years and I would do it all over again for Lucy. She has changed our lives and made our faith so much stronger. She truly is our miracle baby and I’m so thankful for her life and that we get a front-row seat to all the miracles God has done and is doing in her life.”