TORONTO —; Valentine’s Day usually means flowers, maybe some nice wine, and perhaps an intimate meal.
But for one couple from Burlington, Ont., the likelihood of heading out for a fancy meal on Valentine’s Day is pretty slim.
Instead, Gordon Lewis and Vanessa Marshall spend their days and nights at Sick Kids Hospital at the bedside of their baby girl.
Georgia is just 4 months old. She has never been outside, never smelled the air, never felt the wind on her checks.
All her life Georgia has lived at Sick Kids Hospital. She was born with a very serious and rare heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
What this means is the left ventricle in Georgia’s heart cannot effectively pump blood through her body, requiring the right ventricle to do all the work.
Gordon Lewis and Vanessa Marshall with their daughter Georgia. Family handout.
Gordon Lewis and Vanessa Marshall with their daughter Georgia.
Since she was born, Georgia has gone through dozens of procedures, had her first surgery at 5 days old, suffered a couple of cardiac arrests, and has been on life support.
But despite all of this, Georgia champions through.
Her mother says she is a warrior.
“Even covered in wires and tubes in her throat, she laughs. We’ve never heard her laugh, but we can see it. The breathing tube she has blocks her airways so we can’t hear her cry or anything but she is so happy,” Vanessa Marshall tells Global News.
Georgia’s parents have been living at Sick Kids Hospital and Ronald McDonald House since the day Georgia was born. They spend every waking moment with their daughter, trying to give her as much family time as possible —; just like any healthy 4-month-old baby would have at home.
But like every parent in their situation they have very little time for themselves or as a couple.
Sick Kids Hospital is known for the work they do to help children suffering from extreme illnesses, but this time they took it upon themselves to offer a little TLC to Georgia’s parents in the form of a surprise Valentine’s Day dinner.
“It’s pretty cool. We normally have subs in our bed for dinner,” Marshall says, laughing.
“We’ve talked about going out for dinner and few times, but it just doesn’t happen. At the end of the day you are tired and you want to go home (Ronald McDonald House) or you just want to stay at the hospital longer. It means a lot … it’s nice,” Marshall says.
The meal was provided by The Chase Restaurant, and the flowers, decor, and violinist offered by a private donor. This is the first time Sick Kids has done something like this for a patient family.
When Georgia is strong enough she will undergo another surgery on her heart. It’s expected she will need at least one after that. But Georgia’s parents say regardless of how long things take, they will remain at her bedside until she is healthy and they can finally take her home.