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Home / News and Events / General News / Sharing her heart for Christmas
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Sharing her heart for Christmas
By Rex Perry
December 20, 2013

Nadia Dabit sharing joyWith the help of her parents, Nadia Dabit pulled on her Santa hat and slippers.  In one hand she carried a bucket of candy canes; in the other the tubing connecting her artificial heart to a life-sustaining pump.

Last holiday season, this simple act of sharing candy was a precious escape from her hospital room. When nurses or family filled her bucket with candy canes, Nadia chose not to keep them for herself, but to give them away to brighten the hospital stay for others. 

“Getting out and spreading Christmas joy was a highlight of the day for Nadia and the families she touched,” said Suha Dabit, Nadia’s mother. “Nurse Heidi Rick Bean first brought Nadia the candy canes. When Nadia started giving them away, everyone’s spirits lifted.”

Nadia, now 3, came to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital on Sept. 12, 2012 to receive a transplant for her heart weakened by a defect called hypoplastic right heart syndrome. Cardiac surgeons implanted a Berlin Heart, a small ventricular-assist device, while she waited on a donor.

From September until February, after she received her Berlin heart, her parents traveled in shifts from their home 35 minutes away in White House, Tenn. They worked hard to make the holidays special for both their children – Nadia in the hospital and their son, Justin, 8, who stayed home with one parent or with relatives.

Nadia smile“On Christmas Eve, my husband, Tommy, Justin and I stayed in a hotel,” Suha said. “We got up early so we could all be together when Nadia first opened her eyes on Christmas morning. We stayed together on Christmas until our children’s eyes could barely stay open.”

The Dabit family returned this holiday to Children’s Hospital bearing gifts.  They donated Christmas stockings stuffed with gifts to comfort families on their own medical journeys. 

Nadia came along too, with a Christmas outfit for Hank, a hand puppet used by Child Life specialists to help children feel more comfortable in the hospital.  Nadia is spending Christmas at home this year, but she knows Hank will be dressed in his Christmas best to continue the tradition of spreading the gift of joy. 

“Last year we weren’t sure if we would have another Christmas with Nadia,” said Suha.  “Her new heart is the best gift of all.”

Dabit family

Santa called Nadia for Christmas (video)

Tags: Cardiology, Transplant
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