SALT LAKE CITY — Family of 3-year-old Zariah Donovan are looking forward to having their little girl home for the first time in her life.
She was born at just 23 weeks gestation in September 2015 in Utah, after her mother, V, experienced a placental abruption. Zariah has been in the hospital since.
Zariah’s father, Shawn Donovan, said it was the most terrifying ordeal the family had gone through.
“My wife looked at me and said, ‘Don’t let my baby die,’” Donovan said. “She was delivered; we waited about an hour to see if she was even going to live. They said that she was alive; she was kicking and fighting.”
They said Zariah’s fighting spirit is what inspires them all to keep pushing forward despite the odds. When Zariah was born, doctors gave her a zero percent chance to live.
“She’s fought a battle that no person would probably have in their entire life,” Donovan said.
At 3 weeks old, Zariah needed open heart surgery. At 10 months old, doctors diagnosed her with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, or BPD. Zariah needed specialized treatment not offered in Utah.
“That was an extremely rough time for the family,” Donovan said. “We reached out to several hospitals across the country without getting any luck.”
But in July 2016, their prayers were answered. Their daughter was sent to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. Zariah has spent the last 2 1/2 years on a specialized BPD treatment program, there with her father by her side while mom and big sister stayed in Utah.
Just this month, they got the news they would be reunited.
“I was anxious, excited,” Donovan said. “It’s the day we’ve been waiting for.”
They say the transition from Ohio to Utah will be tricky since there is a difference in elevation.
“There is a 7 percent difference in oxygen levels in Utah, so when she gets here she has to spend time in the hospital before we can bring her home,” Donovan said.
Doctors plan to send Zariah to Primary Children’s Hospital in the next couple of weeks, where they will monitor her breathing. The family said once her breathing is stable, they can take her home.
“It’s everything that you have worked for, fought for," Donovon said. "We’re coming up on 1,200 days now … definitely mixed emotions.”
You can follow Zariah’s journey at ZariahStrong.com.