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Holding out hope for their child born with Congenital Heart Disease: Mia's Story

February 01, 2013

If you were to spend a day with the Gravitz family, you would be welcomed with open arms and be overwhelmed by the love this family has for each other. Nothing is more important to Alecia and Marc than spending time with their kids - baking cookies on rainy days, and cozying up in their pajamas to watch movies on weekends. But just over two years ago, life, as they knew it, turned upside down.

Heartbroken

When Alecia was eight months pregnant with their second child, Mia, she went to her doctor for a routine checkup. During the exam, her doctor realized Mia was not moving as much as she should be and Alecia was sent to a nearby hospital. Alecia and Marc knew something was wrong after it was recommended they see a perinatologist (a high-risk doctor). “I started freaking out,” she admitted. “I was so scared; I didn’t know what was happening.”

Not wanting to leave the place they called home, Alecia and Marc sought out Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children to get the care they needed for their unborn child. They quickly learned that Mia had an underdeveloped left side of the heart, a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and would need surgery as soon as possible after delivery. They were both terrified at the thought of potentially losing their precious little girl.

Dr. William Decampli, cardiac surgeon at The Heart Center at Arnold Palmer Hospital, and his team did everything in their power to assure Mia’s parents that she was in the best hands. Alecia commented, “The team was just incredible; they explained everything to us in great detail and even drew us diagrams so we would understand what was going to happen. They even read my mind — I was so upset and thinking to myself what I had done wrong — and before I could even say anything, the doctors were telling me that it wasn’t my fault, that this kind of thing occurs during the embryonic stage and so there was nothing I could have done to cause this or prevent this from occurring. My first thought was, wow, they really know what they’re doing. And that’s what solidified our decision to stick with Arnold Palmer Hospital.”

Open Hearted

When Mia was just 2 weeks old, she was about to undergo her first open-heart surgery. During such a scary time, Alecia and Marc were comforted by how tuned in the surgeons were to Mia and all the signs she was giving before determining which surgery was most appropriate for her. “We felt completely at ease entrusting our baby to them,” Alecia added.  “They would talk to us every day and answer every question we had and never once pushed us aside. There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing the team is,” Alecia recalls, “they were really there and present for us.” Mia’s surgery was a success and was able to go home shortly after.

Feeling the Love

Today, Mia is your typical 2-year-old, full of energy and bright smiles. She will still need one more surgery when she is around 4 years old, but Alecia and Marc are extremely confident that she is in the right place and in the hands of the best healthcare team possible. Alecia said, “I went from thinking I was going to lose my baby to being so incredibly grateful every day for what the team at Arnold Palmer Hospital is doing for my daughter, and for our family.”

Alecia still takes Mia to Arnold Palmer Hospital every few months for checkups and her son even loves coming along with them because of the pirate ship play area. The family has developed close friendships with many of the nurses and team members and is excited to see them when they are at the hospital. “The care at Arnold Palmer Hospital is just phenomenal; everybody knows exactly what they’re doing so you don’t need to go anywhere else. The best is right here”, Alecia says. And this is why the Gravitz family can feel the comforts of home, right here in their very own backyard.

Learn more about Mia’s story and what makes her so special in the heart-warming video:

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