Mother’s Day Miracle: 5-year-old girl home from Duke hospital after transplant

North Carolina
Tia Floyd

A 5-year-old girl who received a heart transplant in a Mother’s Day miracle at Duke Hospital is now home for the first time in seven months.

Tia Floyd arrived at the Duke Hospital Intensive Care Unit in November. Doctors diagnosed Tia when she was an infant with Pediatric Dilated Cardiomyopathy, and said she would eventually require a heart transplant.
That need became urgent in November when she had cardiac arrest during an outpatient procedure in Richmond.

“Two weeks later we decided to bring her here to Duke because they told me she would needed to be listed for a heart transplant right away. She got here on Nov. 23, and shortly thereafter she was put on an LVAD (left ventricular assist device) for life support,” Tricia Floyd said about her daughter.

The family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House in Durham while they waited for good news, knowing that receiving such a tiny heart would mean tragic news for a donor family.

Tricia received permission from doctors to keep her daughter active, enjoying outdoor games and mental stimulation in their home away from home. They made friendships with some of the other families who also had children in treatment.

Executive Director Oie Ostenkamp said Ronald McDonald House of Durham & Wake serves more than 1,000 families annually, as parents and other relatives spend a total of nearly 20,000 nights each year at the sites near Duke and WakeMed.

“We’re here for people so they can be close to their child, close to the event that brings that bring them here,” Ostenkamp said.

“This way, they are able to be close and they could capitalize on an opportunity and things could happen a lot quicker for them and that’s why we’re here.”

The wait for a heart for Tia ended in an instant. On May 5, just a few days before Mother’s Day, Tricia and her husband were taking turns spending shifts with their daughter at the hospital.

“My intent was to shower and change and go right back to the hospital. I got a call in the car that Tia had got a heart, and I thought I was dreaming,” Tricia said. 

“When I got there they told me that she had received her gift and that they would be doing her surgery later on that night. We were excited. It took me a while to understand everything that was happening because you wait for that day to happen and then it’s a dream. She had a four-hour surgery and did wonderfully well.”

Ronald McDonald House staff said moments like that help them continue their work.

“Here it is, right around Mother’s Day, and two mothers had a significant event happen in their lives,” Osterkamp said.

“We have Tia’s mom, who gets the gift that she has been wanting and praying for for months, for her little girl Tia, and then we have a mom who had to lose her own child to be able to give a life-giving organ to Tia so she could continue her life. Two lives affected. Both are grateful for what they were able to provide.”

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