Watch a miracle baby’s first weeks of life through the lens of UW Health photographer John Maniaci
Miracles happen every day at American Family Children’s Hospital.
This sound-slideshow, photographed and produced by UW Health photographer John Maniaci, provides a raw, unfiltered window into one of these miracle stories: Baby McKinnley Murray.
Born in February 2015 with an incredibly complex heart defect known as Transposition of the Great Arteries, McKinnley would not survive without undergoing a complex, risky surgery to restore her aorta and pulmonary artery connections back to normal. Moreover, McKinnley’s situation was further complicated by her prematurity – she was born about 8 weeks early – and weight of less than 3 pounds at birth.
She needed to grow
“We wanted McKinnley to grow before surgery so her lungs would be ready for such an invasive operation,” said Jamie Limjoco, MD, medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “Fortunately, she did well in the NICU, where we cared for her for two months before the surgery.”
On April 14, 2015 – her original due date – McKinnley’s parents, Jenny and Jeff, said a very tearful goodbye as McKinnley was taken to the operating room.
“That was the hardest day of our lives,” Jenny said. “We knew she was in great hands, but we didn’t know at that moment if we’d see her alive again.”
McKinnley’s fate rested in the hands of pediatric heart surgeon Petros Anagnostopoulos, MD and his team. Fortunately, McKinnley did very well and came through the 8-hour surgery ready to start healing and growing.
Her care team, which included physicians and staff from the NICU, PICU and Pediatric Heart Program, gave everything it had to get McKinnley on the road to recovery. Moreover, McKinnley may not have even survived at birth without the expert care of UW Health Maternal Fetal Medicine specialists and the Meriter Birthing Center in Madison.
Maniaci said he hopes McKinnley’s story provides both inspiration and reassurance to other families undergoing a similar experience.
“There is one photo you see of McKinnley being held by her 104-year-old great-grandfather, Martin,” Maniaci said. “That shot alone made this entire project worthwhile.”
For McKinnley’s mom and dad, Maniaci’s presence was a great source of comfort during an emotional rollercoaster ride.
“John laughed with us and cried with us,” Jenny said. “He did such an amazing job and has now become a great friend. We will always treasure his photographs and his incredible support.”
[The three voices heard in the slideshow are those of Jenny Murray, Jeff Murray and Jamie Limjoco, MD.]