Hearts full of hope: Surgery helps extend life of infant with rare condition

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The odds seemed impossible to comprehend.

Russell and Rhonda Dennis had just learned their newborn daughter, Lilliana, suffered from Trisomy 18. The genetic disorder would stymie her physical and mental development. Fewer than half of babies with the disorder survive their first week. Only about 8 percent live an entire year.

All you can do is take her home and love her while you can, doctors said.

That was about one year ago. The Dennis family never thought that Lilliana would celebrate her first birthday, but after open-heart surgery and regular therapy, she is thriving.

Her parents want to hold her up as an example that though the condition can be traumatic, it’s not an automatic death sentence.

“She’s proven she can live, she can learn,” said Rhonda Dennis, her mother. “She still might not live much longer, but we’ve come to terms with all of the things that the Lord has laid out. He’s in control, and bad things may come, but that’s part of his plan.”

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