Like most mothers of newborns, Danae Miller of Elkhart spent the first several months changing diapers, giving baths, feeding, rocking, and playing with her baby. But, unlike most families, their daily routine took place 150 miles south of their hometown, in a private room inside Riley Hospital’s new Simon Family Tower. “This is just so nice,” Danae said while rocking Skylar. “It doesn’t even feel like being in a hospital.”

Her daughter, Skylar, has been full of surprises since her first day of life. She was born seven weeks prematurely, weighing 4 pounds, 6 ounces. Danae and her husband Erik quickly discovered Skylar had a bigger complication than prematurity. Her heart had a hole called a ventricular septal defect (VSD) that would need to be repaired, and an arch that wasn’t attached as it should be. Skylar was flown by Lifeline helicopter to Riley Hospital for surgery to correct the arch. It was a terrifying time for the new parents, but Danae says she and Erik were comforted by the compassion and expertise of their medical team. “The doctors explained everything to us,” she recalls. “They made us feel like they had all the time in the world to talk to us about it.”

Riley heart surgeon John Brown, M.D., operated immediately on Skylar’s tiny heart to connect her arch. She needed more surgery soon afterwards because the blood flow still wasn’t strong enough to supply her abdominal organs. Dr. Alan Ladd performed emergency abdominal surgery to remove some damaged sections of intestine. Then, Dr. Mark Hoyer placed a stent in the arch of Skylar’s heart to improve blood flow. Just before Christmas 2013, when Skylar was strong enough for her final open heart procedure. Dr. Brown closed the hole in her heart.  

Doctors at Riley also discovered Skylar had a small cleft in her palate. Genetic testing revealed that her medical issues were part of a condition called DiGeorge Syndrome. Along every twist and turn of their Riley journey, Danae says she has been comforted by the dedication of their care team. “They make you feel almost like it’s their baby too. It puts me at ease because I know they are watching out for her.”

She’s also grateful for the comfortable, private room in the new Riley Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) that allows her to spend every waking moment taking care of her daughter. 

“I didn’t fully understand what a great place Riley was until we were here,” Danae says with a trembling voice. “It’s important for people to know how much of a difference they’re making by donating to Riley—not just for these little kids, but for their families.”

 
  • Watch this Video

    A Piece of Riley
    June 27, 2019

    I am the Riley Wagon. I mean a lot of... More

    A Piece of Riley June 27, 2019

    I am the Riley Wagon. I mean a lot of things to different people. I'm also a way for donors, like the Burr family, to give back to Riley Hospital for Children.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    Be the Star You Are
    May 22, 2019

    Check out this behind the scenes look at the 2019... More

    Be the Star You Are May 22, 2019

    Check out this behind the scenes look at the 2019 Riley Cancer Center Prom.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    Meet Rowan Breyts
    March 19, 2019

    A baby dies in Indiana about every 14 hours. Rowan... More

    Meet Rowan Breyts March 19, 2019

    A baby dies in Indiana about every 14 hours. Rowan Breyts was not one of them. However, he came dangerously close.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    Christian's Research Story
    December 19, 2018

    Learn how Riley research helped save Christian... More

    Christian's Research Story December 19, 2018

    Learn how Riley research helped save Christian Daugherty's life.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    Kennedy's Story: How Family Support Helps
    December 19, 2018

    Watch the Strayer Family's story about their Riley journey... More

    Kennedy's Story: How Family Support Helps December 19, 2018

    Watch the Strayer Family's story about their Riley journey.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    Sheila and Jameson's Story
    December 19, 2018

    Sheila Dolan shares how the donor-funded Riley Maternity... More

    Sheila and Jameson's Story December 19, 2018

    Sheila Dolan shares how the donor-funded Riley Maternity and Newborn Health team saved her life, and her son’s life.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    Be the Hope NOW: The Campaign for Kids
    December 19, 2018

    We have launched a $175 million campaign for Riley... More

    Be the Hope NOW: The Campaign for Kids December 19, 2018

    We have launched a $175 million campaign for Riley Hospital to save kids’ lives through three high-priority programs.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    Riley Leadership Message
    December 19, 2018

    Hear from Riley leadership about supporting Be the Hope... More

    Riley Leadership Message December 19, 2018

    Hear from Riley leadership about supporting Be the Hope NOW: The Campaign for Kids.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    2018 Race for Riley
    October 8, 2018

    Congratulations to Race for Riley on 22 years and nearly... More

    2018 Race for Riley October 8, 2018

    Congratulations to Race for Riley on 22 years and nearly $4 million raised for the kids at Riley Hospital.

    ×
  • Watch this Video

    Meet Hunter Schermerhorn
    September 27, 2018

    A phone call from Hunter’s school nurse turned a life... More

    Meet Hunter Schermerhorn September 27, 2018

    A phone call from Hunter’s school nurse turned a life changing cancer diagnosis for the Schermerhorn family. See how Riley research is helping kids like Hunter and his family find the answers they desperately need.

    ×