My Daughter, My Idol: Why One Mother’s Heart Belongs to Riley


January 30, 2018
Topics: Heart (cardiology), Riley Kid Story



makenna blog image
Riley kid Makenna Lembke with her family after surgery.

Makenna Lembke was only 6 months old when her family almost lost her. She was admitted to Riley Hospital in November 2014 with congestive heart failure and severe pulmonary hypertension. Makenna was incredibly ill and declining rapidly, depending on support from a ventilator to keep her alive.

When Audra and Geoff Lembke from Fishers, Ind., welcomed their daughter into the world, she was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Many infants with Down syndrome are also born with heart defects, but doctors told her family that Makenna’s tiny heart looked strong.

However, by the time she arrived at Riley, Makenna desperately needed surgery to repair a large ventricular septal defect – a hole in her heart. The nurses and respiratory therapists in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit worked to stabilize her condition until Riley Pediatric Heart Surgeon Mark Turrentine, M.D., performed surgery the day before Thanksgiving. 

Audra calls Makenna “a fighter and my idol.” Because of the tireless care she received at Riley, Makenna was able to go home just a few days after surgery. She is now a healthy 3-year-old. Her family says, “We are forever grateful to Riley and the entire cardiovascular team for saving our girl.”


Riley Blogger

The Riley Blog is written and/or edited by members of the Riley Children's Foundation Communications Staff.


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