Last May, Morgan Dale from Linton, Ind., revved up more than 6,000 motorcycle enthusiasts before the annual Miracle Ride, which has raised $3 million for Riley Hospital for Children. As the poster child for the 2009 event, Morgan helped lead the long line of motorcyclists past Riley during the “big ride.” She also inspired participants with her rendition of the national anthem and her heartfelt appreciation for the hospital that saved her life twice.

Shortly after being born at Bloomington Hospital, Morgan would not stop crying. Tests revealed that a rare immune disorder had caused a blood clot in the aortic valve of Morgan’s heart.

Morgan was transferred to Riley Hospital three days later. Doctors determined Morgan needed a heart valve transplant, but they hoped to wait until she was older and strong enough to withstand the trauma of heart surgery.

Her heart had other plans.

After the cardiologist prescribed blood thinners and sent Morgan home, the 3-week-old developed severe sleep apnea. She would stop breathing for up to 60 seconds at a time. Further tests showed Morgan’s life was in jeopardy.

At 6 weeks old, Morgan received a heart valve transplant, but the 14-hour surgery did not go well.

“The surgeon explained there was a problem with the valve,” recalls Shaney Dale, Morgan’s mom. “He said he had to put Morgan on life support to keep her alive.”

Family members vigilantly spent the next several days at Morgan’s bedside. Doctors informed them that Morgan’s organs would start failing soon. With no alternatives, Shaney made the excruciating decision that she would ask doctors to remove her daughter from life support the next day. 

“I didn’t want her to suffer any more,” said Shaney.

As Shaney went to tell Morgan good night, the nurses said the doctor wanted to talk to her. After waiting for an hour, he delivered good news. They had a heart for Morgan. Shaney was shocked as she’d been told previously that Morgan was not a candidate for a heart transplant.

On December 1, 1996, 7-week old Morgan received a new heart. The family commemorates the day each year with cake and a gift for Morgan that has a heart on it.

Morgan was doing well until a few years ago, when as a 9-year-old she began to feel lethargic. Tests showed severe blockage in her
coronary arteries.

On July 16, 2006, doctors gave Morgan her second new heart.

Today, Morgan is a healthy, active and cheerful 13-year-old.

“My heart feels great, and I’m so grateful,” she said.

Morgan enjoys 4H, playing the acoustic guitar, composing her own music, and Taekwondo.

“She can do just about anything but contact sports,” Shaney added. “That’s because her chest cavity, which was wired together, could open if she took a hard blow.”

Blessed by the generosity of others, Morgan has decided to pay it forward. Besides serving as an advocate for the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization, Morgan has already raised more than $1,600 for Riley Hospital through www.firstgiving.com.

“My inspiration for raising money was seeing how happy the kids are at Riley,” said Morgan. “It is like being at home because the doctors and nurses are a second family that I’ve known all my life.”

Morgan and Shaney look forward to continuing their support of Riley Hospital

 

In This Section

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