Brian and Stephanie with their son Bane just before Ella’s birth.

Halfway through their second pregnancy, Stephanie and Brian Floyd were given the news that their daughter Ella had a congenital heart defect. Ella was diagnosed with a severely hypoplastic right ventricle and tricuspid valve. It wasn’t until she was born in February of 2018, that the true complexity of her condition was discovered. Dr. Gonzalo Wallis, a pediatric cardiologist and medical director of the pediatric heart failure and transplant program at Atrium Health Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, informed her family that Ella was no longer a candidate for surgery to repair her heart. Instead, she would need a new heart and was immediately put on the transplant list. 

Both Concord natives, Stephanie and Brian found themselves amongst friends at Levine Children’s Hospital while waiting for a transplant and quickly forged bonds with many new faces on their floor, from doctors to nurses and other patient families. Over the next three weeks, they spent most of their lives in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) with their newborn daughter, while also caring for their 2-year-old son, Bane. On March 6, the Floyds were given news that Ella was approved for a transplant, however, their daughter’s condition continued to deteriorate, and she sadly passed away before a new heart could be found. 

Whenever possible, Ella spent her life being held by her parents.

The Floyds attribute the precious time they had with Ella in large part to their care team. Brian, who served two tours in the Army, described their nurses as “the Tier 1 Operators” or “Delta Force.” Stephanie shared, “we wouldn’t have had that much time with her without them.” While their stay was long and arduous, Ella’s parents were thankful to be surrounded by a team that felt like family, including family friend and cardiologist Dr. Ahmet Resai Bengur, who was involved in the final days of Ella’s care.

Shortly after losing their beloved daughter, Brian and Stephanie knew they wanted to give back to support other families awaiting transplant at Levine Children’s Hospital. After careful research and planning, Brian and Stephanie established the Ella Floyd Fund in January of 2021 with an initial gift of $45,000. The fund provides special needs assistance for heart failure and transplant families at Atrium Health’s Levine Children’s Hospital, including rent and mortgage assistance, transportation assistance, nutritional supplements and food, adaptive equipment, and other related financial needs identified by Levine Children’s social workers. 

Eleanor “Ella” Floyd was “a bright, shining light” for her parents.

Ella’s full name, Eleanor, means “a bright shining light,” and the Floyds have certainly been guided by their daughter’s light in their lives. Her parents hope that Ella’s story can be seen not as a tragedy but as “a story of true love in the purest form that overshadowed everything around it.” Stephanie and Brian move forward with their mission to help share her light and make their daughter proud. Today, with the guiding light of Ella, the determination of her parents, and the generosity of her loved ones, the Ella Floyd Fund has raised over $70,000 to impact the lives of countless families awaiting transplant at Levine Children’s Hospital.