Every married couple, once they hear the news that they are expecting their first child, is overcome with joy: “Wow, we are going to become parents!” For my wife and I, it took four long years to achieve this goal. The first pregnancy in 2009 ended in a miscarriage at 13 weeks. We were heartbroken. In 2010, we found out that my wife was pregnant again, and everything was going along smoothly until 21 weeks. We went for the sonogram, and we were told some devastating news. Our child had congenital heart disease and would require surgery shortly after. We were also packed up to move out of our apartment in New York to our home we purchased in New Jersey.
Our daughter Alyssa Lauren was born on November 28, 2010, weighing 5 lbs. 12 oz. and was admitted to the NICU. She had a cardiac catheter procedure within a week, and then developed feeding issues for which she needed a feeding tube. Her NICU stay was 2.5 months before they allowed us to bring her home to the mini hospital ward we had set up to give her all sorts of IV medications before undergoing heart surgery in March, where she was visited by many friends and family who wanted to meet our little princess.
Mid-March 2011 she had a six-hour-long operation to repair her heart, but they could not do much since everything was just too small. She endured many complications and endured another six months in the hospital before being transferred to a hospice care facility where she passed away a month and half later, on Labor Day weekend, September 4, 2011—Hei Elul, 5771.
As I have mentioned to many people, Chai Lifeline was and continues to be a support network for my wife Karen, and from the day our daughter Alyssa, of blessed memory, was born with congenital heart disease. Their dedication to our cause was 24/7. Never a day would go by where our caseworker Chanie would not call or come to our daughter’s room to check and see if we needed anything. Their willingness to go above and beyond for us, without asking for anything in return, was/is truly remarkable.
It is for this reason that, for the fourth year in a row, I have risen to the challenge of running with Team Lifeline 13.1 miles in the Half Marathon in Miami “pay it forward” and help raise a personal goal of $15,000. The training will not be easy this year, as I slowly return to my athletic form post-surgery several months back. But nothing will stand in my way as I think of my daughter, and over 4,000 families who have/do benefit from the services that Chai Lifeline provides on a 365, 24/7 basis.
Please be my partner once again, and go to https://www.teamlifeline.org/ and contribute as much as you can. Your contribution is 100 percent tax deductible and will go straight to a fund to assist the families in need of the services of the Chai Lifeline organization.
May we merit the day when illness is eradicated from this world.
By Pinny Gildin