On January 18, 2010, my husband Mathew and I anxiously awaited the answer to the ever-so-important question “Is it a boy or a girl?” It didn’t even cross our minds that we would get any news other than that we were expecting a healthy baby. We were naïve to the world that we were about to be thrust into. As we sat there staring in awe at the grainy black and white image that was our baby, we didn’t pick up on anything concerning.

This was our 1st baby, our first ultrasound...we knew no different. We didn’t know that it was abnormal for an ultrasound to take that long. We didn’t know that it was abnormal for the doctor to come in to “take another look.” We didn’t know that our excitement over a baby girl would soon turn into something so heart-breaking, terrifying and life-changing. The next pieces of the story are a blur. I retained little pieces of information here and there that could be summarized by this simple statement: "Her heart will never be normal."

The story behind Charley's Heart

Charlotte Delene Ritchie made a surprise arrival into this world on May, 14, 2010, three weeks earlier than expected. She was absolutely perfect. Yes, her heart was as crazy as predicted, but she was here and ready to fight. Our little Charlotte had a BT-shunt placed and a tedious RV fistula ligation performed at one week old, followed by decompression of her RV outflow tract 1 week later. She was a TOTAL rockstar and came home for the first time after a 4 week stay at Omaha Children’s Hospital. We enjoyed life at home until Charlotte was eight months old, when we returned for a heart cath, followed by surgery to place an RV to PA conduit and a brand new tricuspid valve. All hopes were that one day Charlotte’s RV would grow, giving her a chance at a whole heart.

Charlotte did very well after surgery and other than dealing with a respiratory virus, she was thriving. She was such a happy baby...always smiling, laughing and melting our hearts with her gigantic eyes. On May 31, 2011, just 2 weeks after celebrating her first birthday, our family headed to the hospital for an outpatient lung scan. Never in a million years did we imagine that we would leave the hospital without her that day. Her scan went well and we were heading for the car when I had a gut feeling that something wasn't right. We rushed her back to the department and anxiously sat by while they did everything they could for our little girl. Our precious Charlotte Delene earned her wings and went to be with Jesus that morning.

Charley's Heart was formed to provide support, comfort, & smiles to the heart community while honoring our baby girl. 

After losing Charlotte, our family knew that we needed to do something to help keep her memory alive and to stay involved with other families who have been chosen for journeys similar to our own...

And so began our journey in the world of congenital heart defects...

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