Parents who recently faced unthinkable tragedy are sharing their story with the world, in hopes that they may be able to save other families the same anguish. Photographer Suha Dabit from Nashville, Tennessee captured a series of gut-wrenching images of Kristi and Justin in their final moments with their daughter Adalynn. The 2-year-old, who was born with a congenital heart defect (CHD), was being assisted by a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), which is a mechanical pump implanted inside a person's chest that helps a weakened heart pump blood. But the LVAD lead to complications and a dangerous blood clot that traveled to her brain, causing brain damage that left Adalynn ineligible for the heart transplant she required.
"I could tell you about the approximately 40.000 babies that are born every year with a congenital heart defect," Dabit shared alongside the images on Facebook. "That is roughly 1 in 100 newborns, every year. I could tell you about the half a heart that Adalynn was born with or many other different congenital heart defects that affect so many children across the globe. I could tell you about how underfunded CHD research is. I could tell you how babies with CHD's require a heart transplant at some point in their lives, why and what you could do to help. I could tell you that Adalynn is one of the 20 people that die every day waiting for a transplant. Or, I could tell you about my perspective of what it was like being in that room to document their last moments together as a family of six."
Dabit, who is also the founder of World of Broken Hearts, an organization devoted to raising CHD and organ donation awareness, continued, "But there aren't any words to describe the pain and love I witnessed. CHD claims so many lives, too many lives. It tears families apart and forces siblings to grow up way too fast. It changes you in every aspect of your life, and to the very core of our heart and soul. It is hard, difficult and unfair. This. This is the reality for many CHD families every day. Kristi and Justin, thank you for allowing me to share with the world such personal and intimate moments. Fly high baby girl. You fought so hard and touched so many lives."
"I know they will hate and love looking at these images forever," Dabit told PopSugar. "I offer all the families I photograph in the hospital to keep the images I take private. I am thankful that Kristi and Justin allowed me to share such intimate moments of their family with the world, to spread so much needed CHD and organ donation awareness. This is CHD. These pictures are as raw and real as it comes. We need a cure. We need research funding."
Our hearts go out to Kristi, Justin, and their loved ones in the wake of this devastating tragedy.