Premature baby discharged after 8 months of hospitalization

HOLLYWOOD, FLA. (WSVN) - A premature baby who was born eight months ago is finally heading home from the hospital.

Sara Muchnick knew her child had a heart defect, but after several months in the hospital, her baby girl is finally able to get a big homecoming from her family.

Elena was born at 36 weeks with a congenital heart defect. “She was born with transposition of the great arteries,” Muchnick said. “They went and did open-heart surgery when she was two weeks old.”

She suffered complications from that surgery, which forced her to remain at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital for the next eight months.

“She had a couple of open-heart surgeries, and she had multiple cardiac catheterizations,” said Julissa Escorcia, a nurse practitioner at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital.

At one point, doctors thought Elena would need a heart transplant, but this little girl is a fighter.

“We’ve gone through her coating and almost losing her to having her chest wide open and seeing her day-to-day like that,” Muchnick said, “and now we’re here where she smiles at us everyday.”

Muchnick said she wasn’t even able to hold Elena until recently. “She’s eight months, and I feel like I’ve held her for the first time,” she said. “I feel like a mom.”

The Pediatric Cardiac Care Unit has been their home until Thursday, when Elena is discharged from the hospital.

“We want her to see that there’s more to life than this hospital bed and this room,” Muchnick said.

Doctors said that her recovery process shows good signs. “She has recuperated well,” Escorcia said. “The resiliency that Elena shows is incredible. Her family’s resiliency is incredible, and we are so proud of her.”

The hospital and its staff gave the family a proper send-off with music, songs and gifts to play with, once she’s home. “I don’t think we could have done any of this without the team here,” Muchnick said.

Elena still has a few things to battle. “She has some feeding issues, some stomach issues. She even has some heart issues that may affect her down the road,” Muchnick said. “She’s fought so much for us, we just want to fight for her, to make sure she knows that she always has us, no matter what.”

Muchnick believes that these complications are part of a bigger story. “I think everything happens for a reason,” she said. “I think Elena has a great purpose that she’s gonna fulfill when she gets older.”

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