Payton Garcia Archie was born on August 9, 2013. When Payton’s mother went into labor, she had to undergo a c-section; the medical team realized right away that there was an issue with Payton’s heart. Payton was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia, a form of heart disease in which the pulmonary valve does not form properly, causing blood to flow back into her heart. To survive, she needed open heart surgery.
At just three days old, she was sent to Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in New York City, where she received a Blalock-Taussig shunt to increase pulmonary blood flow. The surgery was complicated by significant EKG changes and other factors. It was the that Payton’s doctor told her family that their baby would require a heart transplant. Barely one week old, the hospital became Payton’s home where she would stay for months until a new heart could save her life.
Payton’s mother had to go back to school, and her grandmother (Meema) had to return to work. Every weekend, they would leave for Manhattan at 5 pm on Friday and they would stay until midnight each Sunday. Because they were unable to be at the hospital during the week, the nurses got all of Payton’s “firsts” – her first smile, her first giggle; the nurses were kind enough to take pictures and videos to share with them.
On December 15, Payton’s mother and Meema had just gotten home when the phone call they had been waiting for finally came – there was a heart for Payton! They asked if the surgery could wait until they got there and rushed right back to Manhattan. Payton, just four months old, got her new heart in the early hours of December 16, 2013.
After the surgery, Payton went to physical therapy while her family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. On January 24, 2014 she came home and they celebrated Christmas a month late. A song by Drake, “Home” seemed to play every time they went down to visit Payton. The day they put her in the car to drive her home, “Home” came on the radio. It felt to them like a sign that better days were finally ahead for Payton.
Every year for Payton’s birthday in August, and again on December 16, they do a lantern ceremony. One for Payton, one for the baby donor, and one for the family. On December 16, 2019, Payton celebrated six years with her precious gift of life, her new heart. She loves to dance, participates in recitals and has even starred in a commercial!
The only thing they know about the donor family is that they selflessly gifted all of their child’s organs.
Payton’s Meema, DeLisa, hopes to get in touch with the donor family. She hopes someday to share with them the beautiful, life-sustaining sound of Payton’s heart beating.