Provided by Zach Thomas Photography Grace Ohlin-Tobuck (front), 4, and her sister, Emily, 8, spend time on the beach. Grace had a lifesaving heart transplant at 8 months old.
By Beth Reese Cravey Sun, Mar 29, 2015 @ 7:43 pm | updated Mon, Mar 30, 2015 @ 11:07 am
Four-year-old Grace Ohlin-Tobuck of St. Augustine is too young to understand all the big medical words associated with the congenital defect doctors found in her heart before she was born.
She is too young to grasp the mechanics of the heart transplant she received before her first birthday.
“She knows that she has another child’s heart, and that child is in heaven,” said her mother, Lindsay Ohlin.
Organ donation saved Grace’s life. Her mother is telling their story to help promote the 11th annual Katie’s Ride for Life, a bicycle touring event April 18 in Fernandina Beach that raises funds for organ-donation programs.
“She is so energetic now and doing so great it is hard to remember how sick she was,“ Ohlin said. “Anyone from the outside would never know by looking at her.”
CHERISH EVERY DAY
Twenty weeks into Ohlin’s pregnancy, a routine ultrasound revealed the baby had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare defect in which the structures of the left side of the heart are underdeveloped. When Grace was born Dec. 13, 2010, Ohlin and her husband, Kirk Tobuck, had a few minutes with her before a team of Wolfson Children’s Hospital specialists took charge.
Five days later, Grace underwent the first of three planned surgeries to “reroute the blood so the single, right-sided pumping chamber can pump it to both the body and the lungs,” according to Wolfson. Four weeks later she went home with a feeding tube, a machine to monitor oxygen levels in her blood and twice-a-week home visits from a nurse.