By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
In the happy months before their daughter’s birth, Jennifer and Jonathan Campbell planned and prepared until everything was perfect.
They created a nursery in their Everett home, a room just right for a little girl.
Each week, they would read from a children’s book about baby development to Jon Campbell’s two boys, ages 6 and 8, who live with them. The 6-year-old talked to Jennifer Campbell’s growing belly, hoping his baby sister would hear.
The Campbells picked out tiny clothes and other baby things.
“All the time spent looking at paint colors and selecting the perfect bedding, none of that matters,” Jennifer Campbell said.
What matters now is hope — hope for baby Hannah Mae’s life.
Jennifer Campbell, 34, gave birth to Hannah on May 18 at Providence Pavilion for Women and Children, part of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.
“It was a normal pregnancy. I followed everything to a T,” she said.
She couldn’t have been more stunned when, shortly after Hannah’s birth, her baby was diagnosed with two heart conditions.
The first is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or thickened and enlarged ventricles in the heart. More rare is the other diagnosis, supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT. It means Hannah was born with many more electrical pathways in her heart than normal.
For two and a half months, Hannah has been at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where Jennifer Campbell spends long days. Her husband comes there after finishing work each day with Seattle Parks and Recreation. For the first month, Jennifer lived at the hospital.
She credits the Providence staff in Everett for quickly recognizing something was wrong. Shortly after birth, Hannah’s hands and feet were blue, she didn’t cry much, and her heart rate was abnormally high, Campbell said.
Hannah was seen by an Everett cardiologist. An echocardiogram found that her heart had doubled in size. She was rushed to Seattle Children’s and admitted to a cardiac intensive care unit.
Before going into Children’s, Hannah was able to go home, but only for 12 days. She has been in Seattle more than 80 days. The baby has had surgeries, and now has a pacemaker.
Under the care of Dr. Yuk Ming Law, a pediatric cardiologist at Children’s, Hannah has recently undergone treatment that removes all her blood, so that oxygen can be added, then returns it to her tiny body.
Hannah turned 3 months old Saturday. As of Friday, she’d had 50 blood transfusions.
On Aug. 8, Hannah was added to a wait list for a heart transplant through the United Network for Organ Sharing. The nonprofit organization manages the country’s organ transplant system under contract with the federal government.
In her blog about Hannah, at www.hannahneedsaheart.com, Jennifer Campbell wrote Thursday that with wait times stretching into many months, “I am not sure we have that long.” Hannah’s condition is fragile. She would need to be doing well enough to undergo a long transplant surgery.
“We are hoping for a miracle,” Campbell wrote. “We are praying to receive a heart in time, and we are wishing peace for the family that has to make the most unselfish decision.”
In Everett on Friday, family friend Nancy Gilmore helped at the first of two blood drives she organized to bring awareness to Hannah’s struggle. The Puget Sound Blood Center came to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church for the blood drive, and will return Friday, 1 to 7 p.m., for more blood donations.
Gilmore said there would be “Hope for Hannah Mae” bracelets at Friday’s event, a bake sale and a chance to donate to help with medical expenses.
She met the Campbells through PTA at Everett’s View Ridge Elementary School. Her oldest daughter has helped watch the Campbell boys while their parents are at the hospital. The boys also have been spending time at their grandparents’ homes.
“We are blessed to be part of Hannah’s story,” Gilmore said. By raising awareness of the need for blood and organ donations, “we are teaching our children and others how to be better people,” Gilmore said.
By late afternoon Friday, Gilmore said, 63 people had come to Our Savior’s Lutheran to donate blood.
Devout Christians, Campbell said she and her husband have struggled with the reality of a new heart for Hannah.
“Here we are praying for a heart, knowing this means somebody else has to lose a child,” she said.
And with Hannah’s room and clothes all ready for a homecoming, Campbell knows what truly matters.
“If you have kids, just love them,” she said.
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; email@example.com.
A blood drive will be held Friday to honor Hannah Mae Campbell. The Everett infant was born May 18 with life-threatening heart conditions. She is on a wait list for a heart transplant and has received 50 blood transfusions at Seattle Children’s Hospital. A blood drive run by the Puget Sound Blood Center is scheduled for 1 to 7 p.m. Friday at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 215 Mukilteo Blvd., Everett.
More info: www. hannahmaeneedsaheart.com