At just eight months old, Gemma had a cardiac arrest and coded. She was down for 25 minutes and suffered a stroke.
The Gauger family never expected their daughter Gemma would be born with a congenital heart defect. In 2014, Gemma was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
At just two days old, Gemma underwent her first open-heart surgery and needed one again when she was five months old. Gemma's mom, Lindsay Gauger said, "At just eight months old, Gemma had a cardiac arrest and coded. She was down for 25 minutes and suffered a stroke." A narrowing in her aorta was partially to blame.
After the doctors were unable to repair a perforation in Gemma's aortic valve, she was placed on the heart transplant list. Gauger said, "We lived in a pediatric cardiothoracic unit at CS Mott for four months waiting for a donor." On December 31, 2015, the Gaugers found out they had a donor for Gemma.
"Our miracle came as another mother said goodbye to her child. She saved my daughter's life and my family from experiencing the pain of losing Gemma," Gauger said. Gemma spent the next year dealing with various complications, including ending up on life support. Gauger shared, "Thanks to her donor heart, Gemma survived, something the heart she was born with could not have handled. Every day is a gift and we will continue to spread our story until children and families do not have to experience our journey first hand."