“Today’s her second birthday,” gleefully proclaims Tobi’s mother. She has picked out a special dress and hair bow the size of her smile to commemorate the milestone not typically celebrated by 13-month-olds.
It’s transplant day for the doll-like toddler diagnosed with sickle cell disease at a newborn screening. A three-hour drip of blood stem cells flows from a plastic bag hanging by her crib through a tiny tube concealed by ruffles of pink tulle. Martha and her husband, Elisha, and their sons Elshajah, 8, and Rayroni, 4, are all there to celebrate the long-awaited day. Tobi’s eyelids grow heavy and signal the beginning of a nap. Just 24 hours earlier 8-year-old Elshajah was having stem cells harvested to donate to his sister. Now he is playing miniature cars on the sofa with his little brother.
“This is an opportunity and a privilege to see all the blessings God has given medical science,” Elisha says. “I met a family who traveled here from Brazil, and we live just 30 miles from the hospital.”
Martha sums up the day more succinctly. “It’s an answered prayer.”
As the vaccine comes to the frontline workers, a world of possibilities begins to open up.
For Gavin, the hospital isn’t all about challenges and adversity. It’s about giving joy to others.
The holidays she has altered to care for kids are too many to count, but as she retires, she leaves much for patients and colleagues to be thankful.
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