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20 Years of Hope: Sallie

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In December 2019, a young couple in Uganda was overjoyed to successfully deliver twin babies, a precious boy and girl. Very quickly, however, it became apparent that their infant daughter Sallie was not well. She became increasingly listless and struggled to feed. At nine months of age, Sallie weighed just 8.8 pounds, while her twin brother Samuel was almost twice her size.

Her worried parents were referred to the Uganda Heart Institute, where it was discovered that little Sallie had been born with a significant heart defect. Sallie had a large VSD, a hole between the lower chambers of her heart, along with an interrupted aortic arch. This meant that the aorta, the main conduit of blood from our hearts to our bodies, couldn’t allow enough oxygen to flow. Without surgery as quickly as possible, Sallie would not survive.

Thankfully, Sallie’s parents then learned about LWB’s cardiac program and immediately reached out for help. We sent her for additional testing and discovered just how urgent her operation truly was. Her body was trying so hard to get the oxygen it needed that she had developed severe pulmonary hypertension, the most common reason a child born with cardiac issues will be declared “inoperable.”

We immediately began making plans to send Sallie to India for surgery. Thanks to our generous LWB community, the funds needed were raised in just ONE week. Because this fragile baby was in heart failure, however, we had many logistical challenges to overcome.

Sallie’s oxygen levels were so low that we weren’t sure if she could make an international flight, especially during a pandemic. Thankfully, the airline finally allowed her to board, and the flight attendants were so moved by this tiny baby girl that they upgraded Sallie and her mom to business class for the baby’s comfort. They even took turns holding Sallie so her mom could get some rest. Hooray for the kindness of strangers!

When Sallie arrived in India, the surgeons at Narayana Hospital told us that her condition was so serious that she only had a 50/50 chance of coming through the complex surgery. Her anxious mom called Sallie’s father back in Uganda, and they decided to move forward with the operation, knowing it was their daughter’s only chance of survival.

On an early morning in December 2020, doctors took Baby Sallie back to the operating room and opened up her tiny chest. Her surgery was long and complicated — but ultimately successful!

Sallie’s mom cried tears of joy when she was first able to see her precious daughter through the window of the ICU.

Within just a few days, Sallie was strong enough to move to the regular ward to be reunited with her very relieved mom. With oxygen now flowing correctly through her body, she was finally able to start eating with exuberance.

From that point forward, there was no stopping little Sallie from gaining the strength and energy every baby deserves. Within just a few weeks of returning home to Uganda, she was sitting up with help and was greatly entertained by the antics of her already-running twin.

Just a few months later, she had fully mastered sitting on her own with style!

Now in 2023, Sallie has completely caught up in her development. This adorable little girl loves fruit, singing, and playing games with her twin brother. The two of them have an abundance of energy, running together at full speed and enthusiastically kicking a soccer ball.

Her parents told us proudly last week, “Sallie is so intelligent and can learn everything so quickly. We thank God for her life, and we are grateful to everyone who gave our daughter this priceless chance to live.”

That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Another beautiful life saved.

As we continue celebrating LWB’s 20th anniversary this year, thank you for believing that EVERY child counts. For children like Sallie, love truly changed everything!

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