Meet a Patient
Ariella-Faith had been receiving care at another hospital for a month but was not getting any better. Her mother, Gloria, knew she had to take drastic action. And since Ariella-Faith’s father had died while the toddler was battling her mysterious illness, it was just Gloria and 21-month-old Ariella-Faith on the journey to Atlanta, Ga., in November 2014.
“Upon arriving in Atlanta, they headed straight to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta,” said Rene Romero Jr., MD, Medical Director of the Liver Transplant Program at Children’s. “She was one of the most chronically ill appearing children I’ve ever seen in my career.”
Ariella-Faith’s diagnosis included liver failure, hyperbilirubinemia, Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH), failure to thrive, bleeding gums and more. She underwent several rounds of chemotherapy treatments and had many stays in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Children’s. She also underwent a liver transplant at Children’s in April 2017.
“I remember a time in the ICU when there was a complication. It was like all the doctors and nurses were in our room. They did what they know how to do best and she became stable,” said Gloria. “Someone who knew her when she was very sick saw me one day and asked, ‘How is Ariella?’ I said, ‘There she is over there.’ I could see shock on her face, then she whispered in my ear, ‘Gloria, I must confess, I thought she wouldn’t make it.’ That is how bad she was.”
It’s not lost on Gloria what a miracle it is that her daughter is alive. It’s also not lost on 9-year-old Ariella-Faith, who wants to become a doctor when she grows up she can give back.
“She’s been a warrior, you know,” said Gloria. “With what’s she’s been through, I’m so happy she’s here alive today. She’s all I’ve got. I thank God for Children’s and the doctors, nurses and the whole care team at every stage of her progress.”
Dr. Romero said the key to Ariella-Faith’s successful journey is the collaboration and coordination of care across numerous service lines at Children’s, and that the team never gave up Hope that they would help heal the young girl.
“It was a very long journey to get her well, but we never gave up hope, we just kept going through the stages and taking it day by day,” said Dr. Romero.
Now, Ariella-Faith visits Children’s Egleston Hospital every week to check in on how her liver is doing and her overall well-being.
Celebrating remission, Lex embodies strong will
Lex Stolle had just started fifth grade when he started experiencing symptoms like loss of appetite, fatigue and body aches.
After exams and tests at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Lex was diagnosed with high-risk acute lymphoblastic leukemia in September 2019 at the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s. He underwent chemotherapy treatments once a week and in October 2019, Lex celebrated going into remission. After going into remission, Lex continued weekly treatments at Children’s until moving into monthly maintenance chemo treatments in July 2020.
After the toll that treatment took on his body, Lex returned to the activities he loves, such as attending Atlanta United games with friends, acting, and helping the environment.
Lex is now 13 years old and has started the 8th grade. He rang the bell this January to complete his treatment and now has routine monthly checkups. Lex is also an Honorary Construction Manager for Children’s at Arthur M. Blank Hospital.
Lex embodies the Will that patients at Children’s use every day to overcome difficult diagnoses or injuries.
Meet Mighty Mabel
Our family has always been big fans and loved Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta through our involvement through various Gwinnett community events. Never did we think we’d become frequent visitors of CHOA until our daughter Mabel was born. We received a birth diagnosis that our daughter had been blessed with an extra chromosome (Down Syndrome) and a congenital heart defect (AVSD) that would require open heart surgery in the first few months of life. One of my first calls after finding out such shocking news was to my closest friend at CHOA. She assured me that Children’s would be there every step of the way to care for our daughter.
It was no small coincidence that “Mighty” Mabel’s heart surgery took place on Cape Day October 19, 2018. We made it through that day knowing that we had an expert team caring for our baby and with the support of friends cheering us on by wearing special Mighty Mabel CHOA capes across the metro Atlanta region.
And if you think Kevin Bacon has six degrees of separation, try walking the halls of Children’s. It’s like everyone is a friend or knows someone you are connected to. It was amazing to feel the special support and connection to other heart families and to the Children’s staff that would go out of their way to find us in the hospital to check in to see how we were doing.
Through all the appointments with various Children’s specialists and hospital stays over the course of Mabel’s first year of life, we met with team members who knew how to talk to parents, how to calm fears and care for our daughter like she was the only one they were seeing that day. Besides treated their patient Mabel, they treated a whole family, and made sure that our son Mattox, Mabel’s older brother was given proper attention too. He loved riding in the red hospital wagons, getting snacks from the cardiac floor snack cart and drinking blue slushies in the Egleston cafeteria. He even got to drop the hockey puck on the ice and yell “Let’s Play Hockey” while he represented his sister for CHOA night at the Gwinnett Gladiators Game!
We’ve been blessed with a community that loves Mabel in ways beyond a parent could ever dream and to support opportunities that show CHOA some love on her behalf. We are thankful for a community who shows up to buy cookies at Chick-Fil-A Sweet September, collect snacks for Feed the Heart Snack Cart and trilled to join in on the 2021 Mailbox Brigade for the first time this year, and expand its impact to our area. We love to tell everyone about our CHOA experiences and find ways to give back to an organization that gave life to our little girl. Because without Children’s, her heart and ours would be broken!
Interested in volunteer opportunities? Fill out the form below and we’ll reach out with more information: