Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Love And Anguish

"It was love at first sight, and in my heart I knew she was my daughter."
"We didn't see Moriah as 'special needs', we saw her only as our daughter. We celebrated each one of Moriah's accomplishments for the struggle it took."
"I shined the dull flashlight on her and she didn't look good at all. I picked up her limp little body and started CPR as I ran to the living room to call 911. [Doing CPR on Moriah] was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life."
"Not a day didn't go by that I didn't think about her heart. For some reason, I had to know."
Russ Sovis, Grand Travers, Michigan
After her death, the Sovis family officially adopted their foster child Moriah, with special dispensation from a judge.
After her death, the Sovis family officially adopted their foster child Moriah, with special dispensation from a judge.
"It was an amazing transformation. Only about five days after the surgery, he laughed and smiled at us. Once he was home, the giggling never stopped."
"How do you thank someone who saves you when all hope is lost? All you need to do is send them a thank you ... and it is the hardest thank-you note you have ever written."
"I had been through so much, I just wanted to be happy. I didn't want to feel like I was enjoying the fact that another family had been through so much torment. It was such a struggle for me. I was so happy, but it almost seemed like it was at the expense of someone else."
"I desperately wanted the family to know what angels they are. How they single-handedly saved my son's life."
Mallory Olshenski, Petawawa, Ontario
Mallory Olsheski says reaching out to the family who gave her son Riley his new heart was one of the most difficult things she's had to do.
Mallory Olsheski says reaching out to the family who gave her son Riley his new heart was overwhelming at first.   Wayne Cuddington / Ottawa Citizen
The Sovis family of Grand Travers, Michigan; Russ and Kari, had welcomed into their home a ten-month-old little girl as a foster child, needing care. When they first saw the baby who won their hearts, she had epilepsy, low muscle tone and a lack of muscle control. Little Moriah was unable to sit, laugh, roll over or produce any sounds from her mouth. What a resilient, determined family those two parents were, to take on such a huge challenge as to care for a child with such monumental disabilities.

But they did, and they came to love the child to the extent that they were reluctant to surrender her to the possibility that someone would want to adopt the little girl. They set out to do just that, themselves. A year after Moriah came into the Sovis household she was able to climb, dance and play, physical limitations aside. She could say "Mom", "Dad" and "Dora", happily living among the Sovis family's two older daughters.

Adoption proceedings were initiated; even while Moriah had made wonderful progress she was in fact a very sick little girl. She could experience hundreds of seizures during the course of some days, requiring a feeding tube to keep her weight from diminishing from what might be considered a safe level. In the winter of 2012, a heavy snowstorm hit the area around Grand Travers. Kari was working the overnight shift at the local hospital as an emergency room nurse.

Russ was at home with the family's three children, and when he awoke just before daylight the house was cold and dark. A video monitor was maintained to monitor two-year-old Moriah and when Russ glanced at it the screen was dark. He took a flashlight and went to the child's bedroom, where he found her lifeless. Paramedics would not have been able to drive to the house had a snowplow not cleared the way.

Moriah was rushed to the very hospital where her mother was at work, but nothing could be done, the little girl was lost to life. She had succumbed, concluded doctors, to respiratory and cardiac failure. At three years of age, "She just went to bed and ended up in heaven", said Kari Sovis. Because the adoption process hadn't yet been finalized, the family appealed for permission to donate her organs, and that permission was granted. "We didn't want her to die as a ward of the court. We wanted her to die our daughter", said Kari.

Despite their overwhelming grief they wanted to donate her organs to others. A man in Michigan was the recipient of the little girl's kidneys. And a little boy in Ontario whose heart had failed, who had been born in 2011 with aortic stenosis, was in critical condition at Toronto Sick Children's hospital where an MRI showed him to be in severe heart failure. He had been placed on a candidate list for a heart transplant. His heart was so feeble he could barely be touched; his parents could only speak to him. And then came word that a heart was being flown to Toronto so Riley could live.

Days after the transplant the little boy's prognosis had entirely changed. Taken home from hospital almost a month after his heart transplant, Riley began to thrive. His mother wanted to write a note of appreciation to the donor family, unknown to her, but hesitated. And then Mallory and Adam Olsheski received letters through the Trillium Gift of Life Network, from the Sovis family, written to the recipient of their little girl's heart, but their identities withheld. They wanted to know if the transplant had succeeded.

The Olsheski family procrastinated, wanted to respond, but were fearful. But they continued to think of the donor family, and Riley's grandmother had gone off on an investigation of her own, reaching the conclusion that she knew the identity of the donor family. Months had passed since the transplant surgery when Russ received a 'friend' request on Facebook. "How do I know you?" he asked. "You don't" was the answer, "but let me tell you who I am."

"It has helped with the grieving process. Just to know he [Riley] is OK and Moriah's heart beats is so amazing. I struggled with flashbacks of seeing Moriah in her crib and the CPR. Seeing Riley helps, knowing that it was for God's glory", explained Russ Sovis, finally coming to terms, as much as possible, with the death of their young daughter, and the salvation of an even younger boy in dire need of a new heart.

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