"At the time, all I could do to cope was focus on getting the through this, and I went in mama bear mode..head down and charge forward"

Melissa, mom to Anastasia, heart patient

"She was born with a heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot. As soon as they told me, I said, ‘We’re going to Packard.’ She left the NICU at 3 weeks old and they said, ‘Go home and grow her!’ Then we came back at 4 months for her open-heart surgery with Dr. Reddy." 

"At the time, all I could do to cope was focus on getting her through this, and I went into 'mama bear' mode: head down and charge forward. I had never thought about reaching out to other heart patient families. I didn't even look up information about different types, or what she would look like after surgery with tubes everywhere, so it was quite the shock to see her out of surgery."

"Well I was on a Facebook page that sold cookies that helped with lactation. There was a contest and I entered, and won a lovey (a little blanket) with hearts. I started thinking about how heart patient would love this lovey while inpatient for surgery. I contacted the maker of the blankets, Baby Jack, and collaborated with her to bring in donations. And that's how we started Shared the Lovey."

We raise money and donate lovey blankets. I include a photo of Anastasia and I am always willing to be there to talk to parents. We've come and sat right here with people and just cry while their baby is in surgery. Every single journey is different. I can't understand every single journey, even if you have the same diagnosis. I just tell them to breathe in the good. Sometimes it's so overwhelming that you can't even breathe."

"Her valve is leaking, but they're waiting because the bigger she is, the better. We were hoping she could make it until she's 10, but she'll probably need to have surgery sooner."

"But she does ballet now. She loves Minnie Mouse. Her biggest hobby is doctor's appointments."

In this season of thanks, we're grateful for donors and fundraisers like Melissa who put their time and hearts into helping our patients heal. Donate today to support more humans at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.