Parents of 3-year-old girl with new heart simply celebrate

Delilah Edwards’ parents did not plan an extensive Thanksgiving celebration

Just spending the day together is a big deal once your 3-year-old daughter has got a new heart.

“Before her color was really off. She was very pale …,” Delilah’s mother, Samantha Davidson, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Now she’s very pink. I’ve never seen her cheeks have so much color for them.”

Since March, Davidson and her husband Ryan Edwards have traveled every weekend from Moline, Illinois, to see their daughter at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

Last month, Delilah, who was born with an underdeveloped left side of her heart, underwent a 12-hour transplant.

Now, Delilah’s parents have been staying at the Ronald McDonald House in the center, while accompanying their daughter for several examinations each week.

On Thursday, they celebrated the holiday with 70 other families at Ronald McDonald House, which offers free accommodation to families of children undergoing medical treatment.

After nine heart surgeries, some of which did not work, doctors told Delilah’s parents that a new heart was her best hope.

Davidson said the weekly stays – especially the return trips to Moline, which is about 166 miles (267 km) west of Chicago – were difficult, more for the parents than for the child.

“She really knows nothing but this. So this is her normal,” Davidson said. “I think it affects us a lot more than it actually affects her.”

She said Lury’s nurses were adept at reassuring and distracting Delilah upon departure.

With an average of 25 to 30 heart transplants a year, Lurie is one of the country’s busier facilities, according to Dr. Phil Thrush, medical director of Lury’s pediatric heart failure and transplant program.

The first six months after a transplant are the most crucial, Thrush said. If Delilah’s transplant works for more than a year, he said, “I would expect she would probably have this heart for more than 20 years.”

Davidson said, “I’m just happy to be able to spend time with her.”

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