Leon girl gets new heart, a new lease on life

Jill and Josh Peterson found out their daughter Liby had a heart defect when Jill was just 21 weeks pregnant. Now, Liby is doing well after a successful heart transplant. Photo courtesy Jill Peterson

LEON, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas family was faced with a heart-wrenching situation earlier this year, even before their daughter Liby was born.

The birth of a child is supposed to be a special time, but for Jill and Josh Peterson their baby was struggling to survive.

“We were at 21 weeks when we found out that she had a heart defect,” said Jill Peterson, Liby’s mother. “It was very nerve-racking, we didn’t know what would happen.”

“It’s been a roller coaster. It was pretty scary for a little while,” added Josh Peterson, Liby’s father.

Liby was born at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City but was moved to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for treatment. Just after Liby’s birth the Peterson’s were faced with a tough decision.

“At nine days old they told us that it was better to do a heart transplant instead of doing any other surgeries,” said Jill.

The family had to wait weeks for Liby’s transplant. During that time they collected something special.

“These beads she would get every day she was in the hospital,” said Jill. “Every poke, speech therapy, physical therapy.”

After 87 agonizing days of waiting, Liby received her new heart.

“I was really happy with the decision we made to go with the transplant,” said Josh. “Because I wanted her to have a childhood.”

Liby still has a long road to recovery ahead of her. Her parents said she will have medical appointments the rest of her life, which includes taking heart medicine daily.

“We got a recording of the sound of her old heartbeat of her old heart before the transplant,” added Josh.

Thankfully, that’s a sound that Liby won’t have to live with anymore.