Family of 6-month-old in holding pattern as child awaits transplant

Three children have received heart transplants at Loma Linda University Children's Hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., since 6-month-old Sarah Riley Droubay of Portland was admitted there for a transplant July 26.

None of them was Sarah, but the procedures have buoyed the hopes of Sarah's parents, Angela and David Droubay, who live in Southwest Portland's Garden Home neighborhood.

Sarah has a fatal condition called dilated cardiomyopathy that causes the heart to become dangerously enlarged. She needs a heart transplant to survive.

She was transferred to the Loma Linda hospital Ñ a national leader in infant heart transplants Ñ after she was diagnosed at Portland's Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital.

'We're still here (in Loma Linda) and the good thing is, Sarah's kind of on cruise control,' Angela Droubay said in a phone conversation last week from her daughter's bedside in California, where she has been since Sarah was hospitalized.

Sarah has had fevers, an infection and blood transfusions over the last two months, but she's able to breathe without the help of a respirator.

She still needs a feeding tube and gets continuous drips of medications, but she recently started eating small amounts of soft foods such as applesauce and sweet potatoes, her mother said.

The Droubays are optimistic that a heart will be found for Sarah after the three other children at Loma Linda Ñ ages 13 months, 20 months and 13 years Ñ received heart transplants.

'Your feelings are so conflicted,' Angela Droubay said. 'There's knowing that another baby has lost a life.'

But they also saw that the sick children improved immediately after their transplants. The 13-month-old, for instance, was 'very, very sick' before his transplant, Droubay said, but just one day later was alert, playful and taking a bottle.

Since July, David Droubay and the couple's 10-year-old son, Dillon, have mostly stayed in Portland so David can keep working and Dillon can attend Raleigh Hills Elementary School.

David Droubay, a sales manager for Interlock Industries, a Beaverton roofing manufacturer, flies to Loma Linda about every 10 days for short visits. He said travel and phone expenses are high, but his wife is staying in a duplex operated by the local Ronald McDonald House, which is helping with housing expenses.

Contact Mary Bellotti at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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