Update: Eloise passed away shortly after this article was published. Her family will continue to keep their GoFundMe account open to cover their daughter’s medical bills and funeral expenses. Any remaining funds will be donated to Compassion International, which is what Eloise would have wanted.
Clara and Eloise are sisters. Not only that, but the 6-year-olds are twins.Megan Foley
“But you might not know it,” a GoFundMe page for Eloise says, “because Eloise has a very serious heart condition.”
At 13 weeks pregnant, doctors told the girls’ mother, Mia, one of her babies had a genetic abnormality. At 20 weeks, Mia and husband, Steve, learned it was Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare condition of the heart caused by four separate defects, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Eloise and Clara were born via emergency cesarean section at 35 weeks after doctors informed the parents to be Eloise’s heart had stopped growing in the womb. Shortly after delivery, Eloise began to struggle, according to the GoFundMe page.
Eloise spent weeks in the intensive care unit when at five weeks she started turning gray, which the Mayo Clinic says is a sign of the condition when inadequate oxygen is carried in the blood. Doctors said Eloise needed open-heart surgery — immediately.Megan Foley
The surgery would be the first of four.
When Eloise was just 5 months old, she underwent a second open-heart surgery, as doctors believed the flow of blood between the baby’s heart and pulmonary arteries was still obstructed. Although successful, Eloise’s family was mistaken in believing it would be the last time the little girl needed major surgery, as Eloise’s GoFundMe page says:
Afterwards, Eloise’s medical records read, “Tetralogy of Fallot, repaired.” Naively, we all thought that meant Eloise’s heart was fixed.
At 3 years old, Eloise’s doctors informed her parents another open-heart surgery was needed, this time because the catheter treatment used to expand her “small” pulmonary arteries was no longer effective.Megan Foley
“Again, she recovered,” Eloise’s GoFundMe page says. “Then we got truly devastating news.”
In 2016, when Eloise was 5, doctors determined another catheter was needed because her heart still wasn’t functioning properly. Following the January 2017 procedure, the catheter doctor said the membrane between Eloise’s atrial chambers was “in worse shape than anyone had realized.”
Moreover, he was unable to find an artery to connect to the lower two-thirds of Eloise’s left lung. Therefore, her lung would only receive approximately 10 percent of its normal blood supply.Megan Foley
As a result, since blood wasn’t flowing properly to Eloise’s lung, pressure was building up in her heart, causing continued damage. Eloise’s family was told there was nothing more to do to stop her heart from deteriorating; they were advised the little girl wouldn’t live past her 20s.
Yet, all was not lost.
Eloise’s medical case was taken on by Dr. Frank Hanley at Stanford University, a specialist in complex surgeries to reconstruct pulmonary arteries, explains Eloise’s GoFundMe page.
On November 10, at the age of 6, Eloise had her fourth open-heart surgery.Megan Foley
Although there were major complications during the 14-hour operation, including the discovery of critical damage to a heart valve that had been obscured because of an earlier treatment, the procedure was successful.
Eloise’s recovery, however, has not been, as her GoFundMe page explains:
…in many crucial ways [the surgery] was a success. But ever since the surgery, Eloise has faced a host of life-threatening complications.
In an interview emailed to Dearly, Eloise’s aunt, Megan Foley, said her niece is “struggling”:
Eloise is struggling right now. She is being maintained on life support while her surgeon and treatment team assess her and determine next steps. That might mean another open heart surgery, but we don’t know yet.
As a result of the surgery performed by Hanley, Eloise’s left lung — which had previously been deprived of blood — was damaged once the blood flow returned to normal. Her lungs and heart have not been functioning properly, either, requiring her chest had to be reopened to allow room for swelling. The chambers of her heart have not been beating in rhythm and her pulse can suddenly jump to 180 beats per minute.GoFundMe
Eloise’s kidneys stopped functioning as well, requiring her to be placed on dialysis, and she developed an infection which has affected multiple organs.
Eloise was kept sedated and on a ventilator, as she cannot breathe on her own, during most of her recovery which was supposed to be less than two weeks. Eloise remains in intensive care.
Eloise’s family is hopeful they will return home to Maryland soon, which will see Eloise needing a pacemaker and dialysis for up to a year.Megan Foley
Until then, the little girl’s parents are fighting to be by their daughter’s side every moment of her recovery, which has meant missing work and living on the other side of the country.
Foley explained to Dearly that despite her niece’s own unimaginable pain, Eloise has quickly become an example of compassion towards others in her six short years of living:
For example, she was chosen by Make a Wish shortly before her surgery in November. Out of all the things she could have wished for (like a trip to Disney World) all she wanted was to visit a little girl in Uganda who her family sponsors. She just wants to make sure the little girl is ok and has enough to eat. I think that speaks volumes about Eloise’s heart.
Foley arranged Eloise’s GoFundMe campaign to help the family pay for medical expenses and continued costs associated with her recovery. Eloise’s family has asked people to share their “spunky, funny, and opinionated” little girl’s story so she can continue lighting up the lives of all those who know her.Megan Foley
“If there is any silver lining, it’s that we have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from family, friends, and strangers across the country,” Foley said.
“It is giving us strength right now and fills my heart with gratitude.”