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Through it all, Ellie McCloskey still smiles posted on 11/01/2022

Ellie McCloskey wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up; the career has been her dream since she was three years old. Her deep curiosity in all living creatures gave her the bravery she needed for a recent visit to the nation’s largest reptile store, the East Bay Vivarium, where the ten-year-old stood face to face with snakes larger than she is.

 

Ellie’s using that bravery as she awaits another adventure, a heart transplant at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. The Mount Hood resident was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy three years ago, which causes a muscle imbalance where the heart muscle grows thin, the left ventricle becomes enlarged and can ultimately lead to heart failure.

“Ellie’s a really happy kid. She brings a smile to everyone’s face she meets,” said her father, Brandon McCloskey.

Now the local girl with a winning smile is unexpectedly facing an urgent and high-risk procedure to enable her to continue with her adventures.

When Ellie was diagnosed, her doctors informed her family that she would need to be monitored for a heart transplant in five to seven years. After a check-up in June, Ellie’s doctors informed her father that she was in immediate need of a heart transplant due to an increase in pulmonary pressure in her lungs.

The doctors gave the family less than two weeks to prepare to go to California for monitoring and the procedure. Now Brandon and Ellie are staying at the Ronald McDonald House with Ellie under close medical supervision as they wait for a suitable donor heart.

The two must now wait for an undetermined period that may stretch for months or over a year to receive a donor heart that is the appropriate size, blood type and has a similar enough antibody profile for the procedure.

“It’s been hard for Ellie because she feels okay,” Brandon said.

Although Ellie is in urgent need of a transplant, her day-to-day condition has remained stable and she is able to maintain some normalcy in her routine.

Ellie is currently on 24-hour IV medication and is responding well enough that the two can go on outings in the region within four hours of the facility. Brandon has taken Ellie to explore the Oakland Zoo, and the two have plans to visit the Monterey Aquarium and Ripley’s Believe-it-or-not museum.

Brandon is also planning to take Ellie trick or treating in Oakland with family friends so she can dress in her inflatable Tyrannosaurus Rex costume.

Although the McCloske’s can find moments of enjoyment, the family is under financial burden as well as emotional stress due to the magnitude of the procedure and duration of their stay away from home.

Brandon has had to take a leave of absence from his job in Sandy and must find a way to maintain his mountain home while caring for his daughter.

Fortunately, members of the community have stepped forward to help the family.

“The Mountain’s really pulling together for Ellie,” Brandon said.

Mt. Hood Coffee Roasters, the Rhododendron Dairy Queen and Fernie’s Coffee are among local businesses donating a portion of their funds from certain events to support the McCloskeys. A GoFundMe account has been established for community members to help support the family during their hardship. A page has also been established on Facebook titled: “Ellie’s heart adventure products” (https://www.facebook.com/groups/767577611217061/?ref=share) where people can purchase items to support the family. Friends of the family are assuring the family dogs are cared for and their home is maintained.

Now the McCloskeys are faced with their wait and the uncertainty ahead of them. Luckily the family recently befriended another family, the Carpenters from Paradise, Calif., also staying at the Ronald McDonald House. The Carpenter’s son, Zack, has become a good friend to Ellie. He is recovering from a heart transplant and is being monitored until it is safe for the family to return to their home.

“It’s pretty cool to see how well Zack’s doing,” Brandon said.

Donations for the family can be directed to the GoFundMe account at https://gofund.me/690e9509.

By Ben Simpson/MT

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