Brooke was only a week old when she was diagnosed with a rare condition that left her heart unable to pump enough blood through her body. But, thanks to a skilled team of nurses and doctors at Seattle Children’s, Brooke’s life was saved with a heart transplant. In fact, she was one of four children to receive a cardiac transplant during a record-setting week at the hospital. But her family endured nearly a year of sleepless nights and gut-clenching surgeries to get there.
At first, Brooke’s health troubles appeared to be nothing more than a common case of jaundice, and doctors sent her home after birth with light therapy equipment intended to give her a rosier hue. Luckily, one week later when a nurse came to pick up the equipment she noticed Brooke’s breathing wasn’t quite right and recommended that she be taken immediately to Seattle Children’s. Soon after, Brooke had her first open heart surgery. Before she could have a second surgery to further correct her heart, her left ventricle started to fail and her only option was a transplant.
At four months old, Brooke was placed on a waiting list. Her life was still in jeopardy so she spent most of her first year at Children’s, where medical staff worked continually to keep her stable enough to receive an organ as soon as it arrived. At one point, her parents were told that Brooke was perhaps the sickest baby in the hospital and some days it wasn’t clear that she would make it. Amazingly, throughout her long hospitalization, Brooke remained social and curious, smiling easily and often. But even a diaper change taxed her tiny heart. Simple development milestones like cutting teeth required staff and family to keep her comfortable and calm.
On September 26, 2012, the Naab’s received the news they had hoped for – now 7-month old Brooke would be getting a heart. The night before her surgery, while Brooke had her best night sleep ever, her parents slept very little. As Brooke was wheeled away to surgery, she waved to her parents, something they had never seen her do before. "She made us feel everything was going to be okay. We found our strength in Brooke," said her dad, John.
Five hours later, Brooke’s transplant was complete and her heart rate was normal and her skin color warmed from a pale blue to a beautiful pink. She was suddenly active, kicking and playing in her bed. Brooke went home the day before Thanksgiving, 60 days post surgery and one minor rejection episode. In early December Brooke was able to sit up on her own. By January, there were no signs of rejection. By early February, she was weaned off all pain medications, getting some foods from a sippy cup and learned to crawl backwards. This summer she took her first steps. “She’s just so happy all the time”, says her parents, John and Chiron.
Seattle University's Dance Marathon has the special privilege of working with Miracle Kids from Seattle Children's Hospital, who have benefited from the Uncompensated Care Fund that our philanthropy supports. Our Miracle Kids and their families attend SUDM events throughout the year, including The Dance Marathon.