An Angel Named Cora

Many times I’ve seen the diabetes community support one of our own, and today I’m asking for that support on behalf of a lovely and strong woman with Type 1 diabetes named Tara Lynn Wall.

Recently, Tara suffered a terrible loss – the loss of her newborn child due to a genetic heart condition.  From my computer desk (she used to live in Winnipeg too, but now lives halfway across Canada from me), I watched her take difficult steps to protect her baby in the womb, including careful control of her diabetes and finally bedrest.  I watched her rejoice at the birth of little Cora Beth.  I watched her hope and pray as the doctors did everything they could for her baby.  And then I watched her heart break as Cora’s short life came to an end. 

Here is Cora’s story in her mother’s words:

When I was 26 weeks pregnant Cora was diagnosed with Congenital Corrected Transposition of the Greater Arteries (also called L-TGA). Doctors assumed there would be no surgery right away but that she would require a pacemaker sometime during her life. I was saddened by the news but grateful that she would be ok.

I carried Cora until 39 weeks and 1 day – she was born at BC Women’s at 12:10 pm on March 28th, and was 9 lbs 7 oz, 20.5 inches long. They took her from me right away to check her. That is when they realized her heart was in really rough shape so they scheduled her for surgery on the 1st of April. The surgery would be the same procedure that her sister had as a newborn – The Norwood procedure and would also be followed bt 2 more stages as she grew – The Glenn and The Fontan.

Each day leading up to the surgery she seemed to get weaker and they watched her closely. It was determined that she would need the pacemaker when she had surgery as well. I had high hopes because Ayla (her sister) made it through all the ups and downs and is doing wonderfully today. After Cora’s surgery however, they left her breast plate open to allow swelling to go down and planned to close it in 3 days as they always do. Yet when they went to close hers her heart panicked and they almost lost her as her blood pressure dropped extremely low and they had to rip her open and pump her heart for her. They saved her and left her breast plate open to give her time again.

They attempted 2 more times with the same reaction, and because of the trauma she was then put on a life support system called Ecmo. Most children with 1 functioning ventricle do not survive support…which is what she had. I somehow still thought she would make it…until her kidneys failed and she stopped opening her eyes and her fight became less and less. On April 6th we took her off support and I held her close until her heart stopped…it only took an hour and a half for her to pass.

Cora likely needed a heart transplant but was too sick to make it until one would’ve been available. The only way she could have survived without transplant was in the womb…everything was done to try and save her but she just couldn’t do it. Her diagnosis now is close to a paragraph long, and they continue to try and figure out if anything was missed.

I will spend my life missing her and loving here while I try to find answers.

As a relatively new mother myself, I can’t even bring myself to imagine what Tara has gone through and continues to go through.  Shortly after Cora’s passing, Tara posted the following poem on her Facebook site.  She tells me that she didn’t write the poem, but that it said perfectly what she was feeling.   

Please don’t tell me you know how I feel,

Unless you have lost your child too,

Please don’t tell me my broken heart will heal,

Because that is just not true,

Please don’t tell me Cora is in a better place,

Though it is true, I want her here with me,

Don’t tell me someday I’ll hear her voice, see her face,

Beyond today I cannot see,

Don’t tell me it is time to move on,

Because I cannot,

Don’t tell me to face the fact she is gone,

Because denial is something I can’t stop,

Don’t tell me to be thankful for the time I had,

Because I wanted more,

Don’t tell me when I am my old self you will be glad,

I’ll never be as I was before,

What you can tell me is you will be here for me,

That you will listen when I talk of my child,

You can share with me my precious memories,

You can even cry with me for a while,

And please don’t hesitate to say her name,

Because it is something I long to hear everyday,

Friend please realize that I can never be the same,

But if you stand by me, you may like the new person I become someday.

Anon.

In memory of Cora, Tara and her family are asking for those wishing to support them to donate in Cora’s name to the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation, with your donation designated to The Capital Campaign – Cardiac ICU (938- W. 28th Ave., Vancouver, BC V57 4H4, Attn: Janice Williams). 

Online donations can be made here: https://secure.bcchf.ca/donate/general.cfm?Tribute=Yes .  Under “Tribute Information”, indicate that the gift is in memory of Cora Beth Allingham, and in the section called “What else do you want to tell us about your gift?”, you can indicate where the donation is to be designated.

If you choose not to donate, please do keep Tara and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

And if you yourself are a mother (or father), be grateful for every opportunity to hold your child close.  Life is fragile.

Thank you Tara, for allowing me to write about your angel.  May you feel comforted and loved as you remember her. 

Cora Beth

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Sylvie on May 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    To Tara: Though I don’t know you and I can only imagine your pain, I would like you to know that I am very sorry to hear of your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Tara on March 28, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    Cora would’ve been 1 today…wow how have I survived this year? I just had to read this again and thank you again for sharing her story. Much love to you and your family…

    Love Tara, Ayla and Bill

    Reply

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