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A Mom Finds Hope Again and Again

By Heather, a Children’s National Hospital parent
150 Years Stronger Patient Story Heather artwork at Children's National

I’ve spent a lot of time at Children’s National Hospital over the years. My third child, Colton, was born with a genetic condition called dopa-responsive dystonia. No one at Children’s National said treating him would be easy, but they didn’t give up. His condition improved and he learned to walk, talk and succeed at school thanks to relentless care at Children’s National, but our story was not over.

My second child, Ava contracted a dangerous bacterial infection years later, during a family trip to Mexico. Ava was 14. Her symptoms started when we arrived home. By the time we reached Children’s National by helicopter, she was experiencing organ failure and put on life support. She was in the hospital for a month, lost all the skin on her hands and feet, had a collapsed lung and serious vision loss, but didn’t lose a limb or an organ.

Ava is fully recovered today because of Children’s National. It has been my life’s pleasure to watch her go on to chase her dreams, including competing as a collegiate equestrian athlete.

I turned to painting as a way to heal and express what it felt like to watch her fight back to life. The paintings—which focus on her lifeline, painted to resemble an EKG result—hang on the hospital’s second floor, just outside the president’s office at Children’s National.

I hope my artwork brings hope to others as they walk by. To me, “hope” sums up everything the doctors and staff at Children’s National give to their patient families. Sometimes, hope is all you have.