Greg and Ricki Myers were making typical plans of first-time parents. But the Mooresville couple didn’t plan for the news that would forever change their family’s future.
At a doctor’s visit, while Ricki was pregnant, they received a devastating diagnosis. Their baby was going to be born with half a heart, a result of a defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. He would require open-heart surgery just days after his arrival. Even then, doctors couldn’t guarantee his heart would mend properly. Their young baby would be fighting for his life.
Ricki and Greg knew this wasn’t just their newborn son’s fight, it was their family’s fight. It was holiday time when they received the news and, as they tried to process this new information, Ricki and Greg kept seeing the same message over and over again in holiday decorations – BELIEVER. They knew that this was far more than a holiday sentiment, it was what they had to do – they had to believe.
They had to believe that their son was going to make it through delivery. They had to believe that he would be strong enough to fight. And, they had to believe in the team at Levine Children’s Hospital.
Fortunately for their family, Levine Children’s Hospital is home to the region’s only pediatric cardiovascular intensive care unit, the Ricky Hendrick Centers for Intensive Care. Because of the generosity of the Hendrick family, children like Ricki and Greg’s son would have a fighting chance when faced with complicated heart conditions. To people like Ricki and Greg, donations aren’t just dollars that pay for a building – they’re vital lifelines that help them in their quest to believe that their son could win his fight.
In April 2008, Skylar was born. Four days later, he had his first open heart surgery. Friends, neighbors, co-workers and even the staff at Levine Children’s Hospital rallied around Skylar and the mantra “believe.” The word believe appeared in Skylar’s hospital room, on notes and cards, and on bracelets worn by friends and staff.
After more surgeries, doctors determined that Skylar’s heart just couldn’t take much more. They placed him on the heart transplant list and, given his grave condition, he was ranked as No. 1 for the entire East Coast. While Ricki and Greg knew that their precious baby boy’s life was being counted in hours and minutes, they couldn’t give up. Skylar’s family, friends and his newfound family at Levine Children’s Hospital all believed.
“I prayed a heart would be donated to Sky before his own stopped beating,” Ricki recalled later. “While my faith was tested, it never wavered.”
Just one week after being placed on the list, Ricki and Greg were given the news they’d been waiting to hear: There was a match. Skylar was going to get a new heart…that night.
With anxious excitement, Ricki and Greg handed their baby over to the nurses and surgeons.
While they couldn’t be sure if the heart was a perfect match, this was the moment they believed would happen. Not only was Skylar going to receive a new heart, but with it new hope for a bright future.
Now, that future is looking brighter every day. While there have been bumps and worries along their journey, Skylar and his family are happily handling them. As they were told when they started the transplant process, they “traded one journey for another.” They will always have to watch Skylar for signs of complications, but for them, as they’ve watched Skylar take his first steps and say his first words, seeing truly is believing.
About the LCH Cardiac Intensive Care Fund
This fund supports key elements of patient care and patient / family support related to the Ricky Hendrick Centers for Intensive Care at Levine Children’s Hospital.