CHICAGO (AP) – Delilah Edwards’ parents hadn’t planned an elaborate Thanksgiving celebration.
Just spending the day together is a big deal when your 3-year-old daughter has a new heart.
“Before her color really looked out of place. She was very pale…” Delilah’s mother, Samantha Davidson, told the… Chicago Sun Times. “Now she is very pink. I’ve never seen her cheeks so colored.”
Since March, Davidson and her husband Ryan Edwards have been traveling every weekend from Moline, Illinois, to see their daughter at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
Last month, Delilah, who was born with an underdeveloped left side of her heart, underwent a 12-hour transplant.
Now Delilah’s parents stay at the downtown Ronald McDonald House while accompanying their daughter for multiple checkups every week.
On Thursday, they celebrated the holiday with 70 other families at the Ronald McDonald House, which offers free shelter to families of children undergoing medical treatment.
After nine heart surgeries, some of which failed, doctors told Delilah’s parents a new heart was her best hope.
Davidson said the weekly stays — especially the return trip to Moline, about 150 miles west of Chicago — were difficult, more for the parents than for the child.
“She really doesn’t know anything but this. So this is normal for her,” Davidson said. “I think it affects us a lot more than it actually affects her.”
She said Lurie’s nurses were adept at calming and distracting Delilah upon departure.
With an average of 25 to 30 heart transplants a year, Lurie is one of the busiest facilities in the country, according to Dr. Phil Thrush, medical director of Lurie’s pediatric heart failure and transplant program.
The first six months after a transplant are the most crucial, Thrush said. If Delilah’s transplant works for more than a year, he said, “I would expect that she will probably have this heart for more than 20 years.”
Said Davidson, “I’m just happy to be able to spend time with her.”