Contributed photoThrough 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
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
“It’s been hard for Ellie because she feels okay,” Brandon
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
Brandon is also planning to take Ellie trick or treating in
Oakland with family friends so she can dress in her inflatable Tyrannosaurus
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
Fortunately, members of the community have stepped forward
to help the family.
“The Mountain’s really pulling together for Ellie,” Brandon
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
(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
Donations for the family can be directed to the GoFundMe
account at https://gofund.me/690e9509.
By Ben Simpson/MT