By Karlynn Gamble, recipient mom

When I was 21 weeks pregnant, I had an ultrasound to find out the gender of my baby. At that appointment, I learned two things that would change my life – the baby was a girl and she would be born with a heart defect. I was shocked. The doctors told me she would need a series of three surgeries, but that the defect could be repaired. I was scared, but hopeful.

I went through the rest of my pregnancy learning about her condition – Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome – and the surgeries my baby would endure.

Aubri made her grand entrance in the world June 1, 2012. As I was told months earlier, she began to undergo surgery to repair her defect within days of being born. In the coming years, she was able to complete two of the three surgeries before our world was again rocked.

Aubri while waiting for her donor hero

On April 13, 2016 we went to Nationwide Children’s Hospital to have the final of the three surgeries. The surgery went well, but the outcome was less than desirable. Through many weeks of complications and setbacks, it was determined that Aubri would need a heart transplant to survive.

My mind automatically went to the worst case scenario. It was very scary to think my baby would need a new heart to survive. It was something I had never thought about. We now had to shift our thinking – we had to rely on the generosity of a stranger to save my little girl.

For the next seven months, Aubri was hospitalized. She turned four while in the hospital. She spent all of the summer and into the fall in the hospital. I can’t say enough about the staff at Nationwide Children’s – they took such great care of her. Everyone involved in her care tried to provide her with as normal of a childhood as they could.

Aubri today!

After more than six months in the hospital, we received the call on October 3, 2016 – a heart was available for Aubri! I cried for five minutes before I could talk to the nurse. Our miracle was here! Following a 10-hour surgery, Aubri was on the road to recovery. She was discharged from the hospital December 7, 2016 and she is living life! She’s been able to join her classmates back in preschool, play with her little sister and dance! She is now a typical four-year old with unending energy. All thanks to a family who said “yes” to donation at their darkest hour.

We received a letter from the donor family not long after her transplant. Wow. It was very emotional reading about the child who saved my daughter’s life. I am in the process of writing back – I look forward to letting them know how well Aubri is doing and to simply say “thank you” for giving our family a second chance.

Won’t you register as an organ, eye and tissue donor? Be a hero to another family, as Aubri’s donor has been to ours.