Pioneering Surgeon Fixes Baby’s Heart

Life was a fragile thread for Eliana, and her doctors lacked the highly specialized training and experience needed to fix her defective heart.  Though her birth on January 7, 2009 was normal, two days later doctors discovered a heart murmur. A remote cardiogram revealed that her condition required urgent care, and she was airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC from her home in Hagerstown, Maryland. There, she was diagnosed with a rare disorder, tetralogy of fallot, in which the pulmonary artery is defective; in Eliana’s case, the artery was closed off at the heart’s entrance.

A series of procedures at Johns Hopkins followed, but none was successful, and at one point, Eliana was put on life support. Her parents, Will and Astrid, felt “it was time to change course,” and contacted a world-famous cardiologist in England, Dr. Somerville. She recommended a pioneering pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at Stanford University, saying, “He’s the only one who understands anatomy enough to fix it.”

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Cancer Patient Has Powerful Arsenal of Hope

Frank can’t speak of his daughter Calli without breaking into tears. Diagnosed with Neuroblastoma (a cancer that forms in nerve tissue) when she was 12, the 20-year-old woman is still battling her disease but with an arsenal of love, a fighting spirit, and the best medical care in the world.

“I can’t tell you how much we appreciate Angel Airlines for Life,” Frank said. He was referred to the free airline transportation program by a resource specialist with the National Patient Travel Center. When her illness was first discovered, doctors sent her to the top children’s hospital in California, where she underwent several operations, chemotherapy and radiation. “We wanted to find therapies that were less toxic. Some of our options were horrific,” Frank said.

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