SACRAMENTO, Calf. -- A 3-year-old from Elk Grove has been waiting almost her entire life for a heart transplant, and on Monday, she finally got it.
At 7:44 p.m. on Sunday night, Lisa and Martin Fairgood got a call from doctors at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford telling them that there was a heart transplant ready for their daughter, Mariah.
The family immediately packed their bags, drove to Stanford, and by noon, the brave little girl was headed into surgery.
“She took it like a champ,” Lisa told ABC10. “I was the emotional kid crying not wanting to go, and she just wiped my tears and said, ‘it’s OK. I’m going to go.’”
Mariah even rode into her surgery on her motorized unicorn.
“She rode in like she got this,” Lisa said. “She was ready to take it on.”
Mariah was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy when she was 9-months-old and was told she needed a heart transplant – an operation that could cost the family as much as $500,000 in out-of-pocket expenses.
After friends posted about Mariah’s story online, the community of Elk Grove rallied together, raising thousands of dollars to help the 14-month-old baby.
That support, Lisa said, has helped the family immensely.
“We thank every single person from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea,” she said.
Despite the happy ending, the parents say it is bittersweet.
“Someone had to pass away in order for us to get such a blessing,” Martin said.
Lisa added that they hope some day to meet their daughter’s donor.
“Their son or daughter gets to live on and save our daughters life,” she said. “They will forever be our guardian angel.”
Doctors say that Mariah’s surgery went well, although there was a difficulty with her lung during the procedure. She will remain sedated for the next few days, but her family says doctors tell them they expect her to fully recover.