Mother and Baby Beat Odds to Survive Cancer, Heart Defect


They were at the hospital by 5 a.m. to start filling out paperwork, nipping into the intensive care unit to tell Juliana the good news – even if she couldn’t hear or understand it.

The transplant started at 5:30 that evening and took two medical teams.

Juliana’s new heart officially started beating at 1:18 a.m., Graves said.

It took months for Juliana’s body to recover from the damage of those first few weeks, which initially left her on a breathing tube. Meanwhile, Graves went back and forth across the street for radiation therapy.

But both mother and daughter persevered. Graves finished radiation, and Juliana’s health slowly returned.

“Any time you have a patient as sick as she was that has a good outcome, everyone is extremely pleased and happy for the family,” Dreyer said. “This is why we do what we do.”

Juliana finally left the hospital June 16. The family moved to Houston permanently to be closer to the hospital.

“The first time I held her was on Mother’s Day,” Graves said. “Now, she wants to be held all the time.

“We felt really fortunate that we were able to be at the best facility, with the best doctors,” she said. “Even when she was at her sickest, we were like nope. She’s a fighter.”

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