Within seconds of her birth, Hope struggled to breathe. She was immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit where she was intubated (tube down her throat) to help her tiny body get the oxygen it so desperately needed. A few hours later, she was transferred to another hospital in Winnipeg and barely 24 hours after her birth, she was flown by air ambulance to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Hope was diagnosed with Pulmonary Atresia with Atrial Septal Defect, a serious congenital heart defect that is often diagnosed before birth, but in Hope’s case, did not show up in any of her fetal scans.

While in Edmonton, Hope underwent PDA ligation and then had open-heart surgery to put a central shunt in her chest. Several days later, she had to undergo the procedure again, because the shunt had clotted. Hope responded very well after the second surgery, and by the time she was 5 weeks old, she could go home to be with her family.

Hope is now a sweet, funny and very clever 5-year-old. She continues to be closely monitored by a pediatric cardiologist and she receives great care at the Children’s Variety Heart Centre. In the next year, she will have an MRI to get a better look at her right ventricle and the doctors will need to determine if additional surgery is required. Although she lives with very low oxygen levels, Hope always seems to have more energy than her mom and dad!

Hope hasn’t decided yet what her most heartfelt Wish will be, but she is certainly having a lot of fun thinking about all the possibilities! She has some really great ideas – like taking a rocket ship up to see the moon (but only if Queen Elsa from the movie ‘Frozen’ can come too), and meeting a “real, live unicorn.” But no matter what Hope decides on for her Wish, her family knows that it will become one of her fondest childhood memories.