Devon: 5 Hearts, 7 Days
“I get my strength from Devon. She’s strong and jolly.”
~Nancy, Devon’s Mom
Her eyes caught mine, and I told her what I saw. A brave mother who’d never stopped fighting for her daughter’s life no matter how complicated her needs. Tears pooled in Devon’s mom’s eyes. Tears of relief, weariness, fear, and hope. Nancy is the single mom of three, and it has not been easy without the help of a husband and father.
Our Love Without Boundaries team had the honor of circling around Nancy last week in Mukono, Uganda to listen to her story, meet her daughter, Devon, and discuss traveling out of the country for Devon’s urgently-needed surgery. Nancy’s precious girl has a very sick heart with multiple defects, and it has been a long road.
What words adequately express how it feels for a mom to know that her beloved daughter will likely die if someone doesn’t help her receive heart surgery? When told we’d do everything we could to help, all Mom could muster was gratitude and then,
“When? When will we know when the surgery will be?”
We saw determination in her eyes and heard a tremor in her voice. Her single desire is to fight for the life of her child.
When Devon was diagnosed with Down Syndrome as a baby, the doctor advised that she have an echocardiogram and EKG testing to determine if her heart was healthy.
Though she desperately wanted to follow that advice, Mom couldn’t afford to have those tests done for several more years. Finally, a medical mission team from India finally came to Uganda, and Nancy jumped at the chance to have answers at long last and traveled with hope to have her daughter’s heart tested.
Sadly, the team diagnosed Devon with an Atrioventricular (AV) Canal Defect and Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD). These are congenital defects involving a hole in the heart on the septum impacting the upper chambers (atria) and lower chambers (ventricles), as well as the blood flow between the left and right side of the heart.
Nancy was told that Devon’s fragile heart needed to be repaired as soon as possible, but no hospital in Uganda is currently able to perform this type of complex surgery. Nancy had to face the daunting reality that finding a facility overseas was the only way to save her child’s life.
She told us, “It is tormenting emotionally, but I have to be strong. As a single mom, I’m the engine of the family.”
Although Nancy felt helpless, she never gave up hope and began searching the internet. Thankfully, she came across Love Without Boundaries’ website. Seeing that several kids with the same heart problems had been helped, she took the chance and emailed us.
That email was answered immediately. After answering a few questions, she was then connected with Christina Lindseth, LWB’s Managing Director of Uganda Programs. For the first time, Devon’s mom felt relief, knowing right away that she had finally found help.
Nancy shared her sadness that it has taken her so long to find help for Devon’s heart. Her daughter has difficulty breathing and tires very easily. Nevertheless, Devon has started saying her first words and smiles a lot. Her favorite toys are a special doll and any ball.
“There are nights when we are sleepless, but in the morning, Devon puts on a big smile, calls me mum, and gives me a big hug.”
When asked how she feels about traveling far outside of Uganda for the very first time, she swallowed and responded bravely.
“I am nervous. I’m nervous about the surgery.”
Like most moms, she’s not focused on her own comfort. She’s focused on her child, both worried and hopeful. If the surgery is funded, they will head to India where Devon will receive urgently needed, life-saving heart surgery.
Nancy tells us with strength in her voice, “With God, nothing is impossible.”
Despite her complicated medical needs and the pain of their long journey, Nancy is not giving up on Devon. Let’s not give up on her either. Will you respond to their pleas for help by donating?
This week’s guest blogs are written by Rebecca Radicchi, author and adoptive mom