Skylar's heart: Georgia baby in need of a heart goes home

- Skylar Ridley has been in Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston since she was airlifted here when she was just two and a half hours old.

"She's never known anything but a hospital bed," says Skylar's mom, Hayle Ridley.

Her 2-year old sister Jolene has only been able to visit a handful of times.

"She loves seeing pictures and videos.  She'll hug the phone when you show her the video," says Ridley.

This has been the Ridleys second home for 119 days.

"And, having to choose which daughter we spent our days with. I think that was the hardest part," says Ridley.

This wasn't how Hayle and Troy Ridley imagined things would go when they got pregnant with Skylar.
But at 32 weeks, an ultrasound revealed a problem with Skylar's heart: dilated cardiomyopathy.
Her heart was too big, too weak.

"You don't realize that if your heart is not strong, you can't eat properly, it's hard for you to breathe, or stay awake." Ridley says."Breathing is a very big challenge for any heart warrior.  I never got the see her face without any tubes on it, until last week."

Dr. Bill Mahle, Director of the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Heart Center, says they knew early on a heart transplant was a possibility.  They didn't realize back then it would be Skylar's only option.
Some families wait months, others years.

"It depends on the blood type, and the size of the baby, and just luck." saysnDr. Mahle."We try to tell families, don't focus so much on when the heart will become available, because it creates a lot of stress."

Hayle knew how much Skylar needed this. They waited just 22 days. 

"It's just about unheard of to have a heart available for a baby her size so quickly, " says Ridley.

Skylar was just 10-weeks old, just under 9 pounds, when she was rolled into surgery.
almost right away. Her new heart made a big difference.

"The good news is the younger you are when you receive a heart transplant, in general, the longer it is going to last," says Dr. Mahle.

Skylar will need daily medications - to keep her body from rejecting her new heart.
But it means she can go home.  Just in time for mother's birthday.

"We're just so thankful that they made that decision." says Ridley. "And we pray for that family every day, and hope that they were able to find peace in."

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