TOLEDO (WTOL) - From the moment she was born, three weeks early, Harper Szymanskihas been keeping her parents on their toes.
“It’s just been love at first sight,” said Mary Szymanski, Harper’s mom.
After Harper was born, doctors diagnosed her with down syndrome. They also discovered she was born with two holes in her heart, a patent foramen ovale (PFO) and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA).
“They typically close as soon as you’re out of the womb,” said Szymanski. “We thought hers did, but they didn’t.”
Those holes remained open until a near death experience.
“We got a call from daycare that she was turning a little blue,” said Mary Szymanski. “We saw at home that she was also a little bit blue, so we took her to the hospital. Her body was shutting down on her and it was just a matter of time.”
The Szymanski’s went to Mercy Children’s Hospital where their doctors discovered E. Coli had gotten into Harper’s blood stream through the holes in her heart that never closed. Harper fought off the infection for weeks and just when they thought they were in the clear, things went south again.
A month after fighting a deadly infection, Harper was diagnosed with infantile spasms. But, Harper persisted and never let it get to her.
“She’s a little fighter,” Szymanski said. “She takes everyday one day at a time.“
Szymanski said Mercy made the difference. She knows that without them, life would be different.
”I don’t think she’d be here,” Szymanski said. “I honestly don’t think Harper would be here if it weren’t for Mercy Children’s and the care and compassion they have shown us.“
Harper is doing well now and is slowly hitting her milestones. She has several therapy sessions a week from occupational, to physical, speech and her favorite: pool therapy.
”Seeing her happy in the water, playing in the water but still getting that muscle built up... it’s amazing,” Szymanski said.
From playing in the water, to playing with her brother, Harper’s smile shines bright. Although she’s just 16 months old and can’t speak yet, her positivity, love and determination to beat the odds are examples to so many.
"Seeing how much she has overcome in such a short amount of time... it gives me hope,” Szymanski said. “It shows me that anybody and everybody can love no matter how small and she’s just always there to put a smile on your face. "
While there is still a long road ahead for Harper, her family knows it will be easier with Mercy Children’s Hospital at their side and in their corner.
“I just can’t thank Mercy enough for all that they have done,” Szymanski said. “Mercy Children’s has been amazing; the doctors, the nurses, the therapists everybody has a hand in Harper’s journey and has helped her grow into who she is today.”
It’s clear to see why Harper is a miracle child and destined for more.