Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mom to Emma Kate
March 9th, 2001 - March 17th, 2001
Johnston, Iowa

After a normal pregnancy and the birth of a healthy son two years earlier, I was pregnant with my first daughter when I went to the hospital at 35 ½ weeks with contractions. My greatest concern at the time was that I might deliver early, but delivering anything other than a healthy baby never even entered my mind. Yet my naivety would not last long as just hours after entering triage signs began to indicate that something was wrong. An ultrasound showed fluid in the abdomen, a sign that my baby’s girl’s heart might be in trouble. Within a few hours our worst fears were confirmed by the pediatric cardiologist, who diagnosed multiple congenital heart defects and congestive heart failure in-utero.

Less than 48 hours after I had entered the hospital with contractions, Emma Kate Safris was delivered via c-section. Unable to breathe on her own, she was dependent on a ventilator and would require a heart transplant for any chance of survival. Whereas 48 hours earlier, not faced with such treatment for my own child, a heart transplant had seemed an easy solution. Yet as we learned more, including the terrifying reality that if she survived the initial transplant she would require a new heart every 10 years, we came to realize that this was not the life we wanted for our daughter. And so on March 17th, just 8 days after her birth, we made the most heart-wrenching decision a parent could ever make. After disconnecting the ventilator, Emma Kate Safris passed away peacefully, without ever taking a breath on her own…and our lives were never the same.

Since Emma’s birth I have been blessed with two more healthy children to join their big brother, Luke. Ali Emma was born in April 2002, and Will Henry followed in March 2006. My husband and I live in Johnston, IA with our three children who run and our angel who flies. Each of them touches our lives every day in amazing ways.

You can contact Kate at


Anonymous said...

What a heartbreaking and selfless decision to make for your child. I was moved very much by your story.

Megan said...

What a beautiful story. As I read it, I thought to myself "Did I write this?". I just lost my daughter on August 3, 2010. I also went into labor early at 35 weeks 3 days. Mackenzie was born with an undiagnosed heart defect as well. She developed infections following open heart surgery and just wasn't big enough to fight them off any longer. I didn't think my child could be sick either; no parent does. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It feels good knowing someone else is out there who knows EXACTLY what I've been through.

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