Two heartbroken parents are sharing a group of very private photos of their family's last moments with their 2-year-old daughter, who passed away waiting for a heart transplant. Adalynn, who was born with a congenital heart defect (CHD), was being assisted by a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) — a mechanical pump implanted inside a person's chest that helps a weakened heart pump blood. Although these pumps can be lifesaving, Adalynn unfortunately experienced complications as a result of her LVAD and developed a dangerous blood clot, which traveled to her brain, leaving her brain-damaged and therefore rendering her ineligible for a heart transplant.
Suha Dabit — a photographer, the founder of World of Broken Hearts, and mom to a daughter who received a heart transplant — captured Adalynn's final moments with her parents, Justin and Kristi, and her three siblings, and the photos will absolutely wreck you.
"I have been in their shoes. This could have very easily have been us," Suha, who knows firsthand what it's like watching your child go through heart failure, told POPSUGAR. "I felt Kristi's unconditional love for Addy and the excruciating pain. It was hard, I could barely hold it together. I left with a piece of my heart missing. I wish no family would ever have to go through this, but it happens, every day. Although I knew it would be extremely hard to take these images, I knew that these would be their last memories of her captured."
Suha originally shared the photos to the World of Broken Hearts Facebook page, where she included some eye-opening CHD statistics. She wrote:
I could tell you about the approximately 40,000 babies that are born every year with a congenital heart defect. That is roughly 1 in 100 newborns, every year. I could tell you about the half a heart that Adalynn was born with or the many [other] congenital heart defects that effect so many children across the globe. I could tell you about how underfunded CHD research is. I could tell you how babies with CHD's require a heart transplant at some point in their lives, why and what you could do to help. I could tell you that Adalynn is one of the 20 people that die every day waiting for a transplant. Or, I could tell you about my perspective of what it was like being in that room to document their last moments together as a family of six.
But there aren't any words to describe the pain and love I witnessed. CHD claims so many lives, too many lives. It tears families apart and forces siblings to grow up way too fast. It changes you in every aspect of your life, and to the very core of our heart and soul. It is hard, difficult and unfair. This. This is the reality for many CHD families every day.
In the gut-wrenching bunch of images, you can feel the family's anguish and heartbreak, knowing that in a few moments, they'd be removing Addy's LVAD and watching her pass on.
"I know they will hate and love looking at these images forever," Suha said. "I offer all the families I photograph in the hospital to keep the images I take private. I am thankful that Kristi and Justin allowed me to share such intimate moments of their family with the world, to spread so much needed CHD and organ donation awareness. This is CHD. These pictures are as raw and real as it comes. We need a cure. We need research funding."