Parents of a 3-year-old girl with a new heart simply celebrate

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CHICAGO (AP) – Delilah Edward’s parents did not plan an extensive Thanksgiving celebration.

Just spending the day together is a big deal when your 3-year-old daughter has a new heart.

“Before her color was really bad. She was very pale …,” said Delilah’s mother, Samantha Davidson Chicago Sun-Times. “Now she is very pink. I have never seen her cheeks have so much color.”

Since March, Davidson and her husband Ryan Edwards have traveled every weekend from Moline, Illinois, to meet their daughter at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

Last month, Delilah, who was born with an underdeveloped left side of her heart, underwent 12 hours of transplant surgery.

Now Delilah’s parents have lived at Ronald McDonald House in the city center while accompanying their daughter for several check-ups each week.

On Thursday, they celebrated the holiday with 70 other families at Ronald McDonald House, which offers free accommodation for families with children undergoing medical treatment.

After nine heart surgeries, some of which did not work, doctors told Delilah’s parents that a new heart was her best hope.

Davidson said the weekly breaks – especially the return trips to Moline, which is about 166 miles (267 km) west of Chicago – were difficult, more so for the parents than for the child.

“She really knows nothing but this. So this is her normal,” says Davidson. “I think it affects us a lot more than it actually affects her.”

She said Lury’s nurses were good at calming and distracting Delilah at the time of departure.

With an average of 25 to 30 heart transplants per year, Lurie is one of the country’s busiest facilities, according to Dr. Phil Thrush, Medical Director of Lurie’s Pediatric Heart Failure and Transplant Program.

The first six months after a transplant are the most crucial, Thrush said. If Delilah’s transplant works for more than a year, he said, “I would expect her to have this heart probably for more than 20 years.”

Davidson said, “I’m just happy to be with her.”

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