ST. LOUIS – While many Christians will observe Easter this Sunday, the Rovey family of Litchfield, Illinois will spend Easter St. Louis Children's Hospital. But it’s a day they will never forget, as they celebrate new life and new hope for their 10-year-old daughter, who needed a new heart.
"That very first surgery they told us that we were going to lose her and about an hour or so later they came back and they had her revived and continued on with the surgery,” said Jessica Rovey.
It would be the first of three open-heart surgeries for Emma, born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a defect where the left side of the baby’s heart is underdeveloped.
Emma was doing okay until about a year ago when she started experiencing chest pains, vomiting, and tiredness. About a month and a half ago, doctors said the only hope was a heart transplant. She was on the transplant list for two weeks and a day. Then the family received a phone call on Wednesday.
“‘We need you to head down.’ They asked me how long it would take me to get here. I said I would be here within two hours,” Rovey said.
Doctors told the family the surgery may take 20 hours. It only took eight hours.
Emma is in recovery and doing well, the family said.
"I believe everything happens for a reason and, you know, God answered our prayers and He was in there the whole time with her and I couldn't be more grateful," Rovey said.
The donor heart came from a child. Rovey said she doesn’t know the identity of the donor's family but she has started the process of finding them so she can meet and thank them in person.
"I just want to tell them how sorry I am for them for losing their child but I also want to thank them for giving my child a second chance at life. I never can repay them for this but my heart will always be with them," she said.
As far as Emma's immediate future, her mother said they’ll take things day by day. Doctors hope Emma’s body won’t reject the new heart. She may be in the hospital for another two weeks before she is allowed to go home.