A Secret Garden

Today we had a day free of any appointments so I decided it is time to embrace “not busy”. It’s been so busy for so long, just trying to keep our heads above water. Even before being hospitalized I was trying to cram as much fun into our day to make up for all the appointments and being restrained due to tube feeding and all the times a big vomit would ruin our plans. Also, I wanted to make Hana’s life good and full of experiences just in case she didn’t get to have many of them. Seize the day, I suppose. Maybe part of me knew a time would come when things would be limited, even very limited.  Now we are relatively free again yet limited by exposure. We have all this time and only a few ways to spend it. It actually feels great! Plus I think Hana has a lot of catching up to do playing outside!

After breakfast Hana and I walked to the park. She was bored after an hour so I thought maybe she’d enjoy preschool at the hospital, although being in the hospital is not too appealing to me. Besides it felt like we spent all day there the day before. We started walking, meandering through the neighborhoods when we came upon an interesting looking place called the Arts Alliance Guild. I was even more intrigued when I saw it benefited the hospital.

It turned out to be a lovely Spanish style collection of buildings with courtyards and paths and fountains and gardens. Hana enjoyed running around there more than the playground! There were very few people there and it seemed tucked away in a sleepy neighborhood so that it felt like our own secret garden.

I wish I could say the rest of the day was as nice. After the afternoon nap I got the brilliant idea to see if Hana would be interested in a Peanut butter chocolate smoothie from Jamba Juice. I haven’t had one of these drinks in at least ten years. We got the smallest size and I poured some in a straw cup for Hana. She started slurping it down and I was delighted. 

Then she sat up straight in her stroller and would not rest her back while we walked downtown. She started coughing. Then I got worried she was having a reaction to the peanut butter which she’s never had it and Paul had a peanut allergy. I decided I was going to head back maybe even right to the hospital. I checked her tongue and her breathing and she had no rash anywhere. But she seemed more and more bothered. Then I decided to call Stanford and while I was on the phone with them, Hana threw up.

So, no more peanut butter and no more PB chocolate love smoothies! We ended up going back to the Ronald McDonald House and by the time we got there Hana was back to her normal self. 

Yesterday was a busy day at the hospital with bloodwork, echocardiogram, clinic appointment. Hana’s heart looks great. Her tacrolimus levels are still a little high so we decreased her dose. Her blood pressure is still too high so we went up on those meds. They started to wean the sildenafil (Viagra) who knew it was a medicine used to treat pulmonary hypertension!? Hana got her Berlin cannula site sutures removed! 

Running after a toddler can be exhausting, especially when you have to keep her from touching too much or putting her fingers in her mouth. It’s almost an impossible task unless you keep them restrained all the time.

Remember that only a couple days are left to support Donate Life America and honoring Hana and her donor by purchasing a print from Eugenia Mancini Horan. Prints are available here:


Here’s one of Hana yesterday as we waited for the surgical team member to come and take out Hana’s sutures.

Getting In A Groove

Things have been great! There is much happiness. Hana is really loving life, she’s so free. She does still have to put up with a lot, but she is such a trooper. She is talking like crazy. There are so many new words. She is drinking a lot too and experimenting with more foods. 

We are starting to get in a groove here at the RMH. A routine is taking shape. We have a flow. I still have a longing to be home, which is even stronger since the day is in sight. I can’t wait to have Poppy with us again. So, I think the longing is really to be back as a family doing day to day things in a permanent place. I say it like that because all of this has made us think about moving out of the city. We love our neighborhood in San Francisco, mostly because of all our great friends, but city life is making less sense for an immune compromised kid. Plus, we are really enjoying warm weather here in Palo Alto, it would be nice to live somewhere warm again. For those of you not aware, a warm day in San Francisco is maybe 70 degrees for just a few hours and then the fog rolls in and it’s 55 degrees. Occasionally it gets hot, but that’s freakish weather. If we move, it won’t be any time soon.

Hana has been so happy! She still has a hard time getting to sleep at night. She still has diarrhea and bloating and seems to have intestinal pain from medications. Unfortunately, I don’t think is going to change any time soon. She does have a lot of appointments, but that won’t be forever!  I did take her out jogging in the stroller and seemed to really enjoy it. She was very quiet and I discovered her mouth was loaded with cheese she hadn’t swallowed!

Thank you all for following this journey with us. All of you inspire us! We have received many letters and packages and notes and comments and they bring us joy. We feel loved and that makes all of this so much easier!

One person who has been putting forth a lot of love lately is Gina, the artist who painted the painting of Hana, The Gift. Her enthusiasm is inspiring to me. Her willingness to be so transparent is inspiring. I think that shows in her art work. I am so honored that she is making prints of her artwork to raise for Donate Life America in honor of Hana and her donor. I am in awe of her efforts, which makes me feel like I can afford to be a bit braver!

To help support the donate life effort, get your prints using the links below. They are only available until July 1st!


Hana will thank you!

Biopsy Results

First, Sunday the 26th is the deadline to order The Gift (portrait of Hana) greeting cards. All the profit from the cards are going to be donated to Donate Life America, which raises awareness about the importance or organ donation (amongst other things). See the link below!

I could mention the cards first because the second news, Hana’s biopsy results, were the same as last time, zero rejection!!! This news came as we were waiting to be discharged from the short stay unit, which was delayed because Hana’s blood pressure was so high. They decided to double her dose of amlodipine, her blood pressure medication. This is the second time in a week they’ve doubled it. I guess as you taper off the steroids, blood pressure can go up for a while. Anyway, we are very happy with zero rejection! 

Hana has been very happy. She is talking a lot more, signing a lot more and almost running! She is really starting to climb which means all the wounds in her chest and abdomen must be feeling better. Her Berlin Heart cannula sites are hardly weeping at all. She still isunder sternal   precautions for another two weeks.

Today we took Hana on a road trip eight miles from the RMH. It may be pushing the boundaries a bit but it is only 20 minutes away. There was a special occasion at the golf course there at Shoreline. Bill, an instructor, was giving golf lessons all day long to raise money for the hospital! I think he was doing it from 5am to 9pm. By the time we got there in the morning he had already raised $5,000! I think it was a nice surprise for them when Hana showed up. Bill was first inspired to do this when he saw the Dateline show about the Bingham family. Two of their kids have had heart transplants (one of them has had a second transplant) and one of them was on the Berlin Heart for a very long time waiting. Their youngest is currently waiting for a transplant. After seeing that show, he met Paul a week later and discovered Hana was waiting for a heart so he decided it was a sign to do something!

Hana is enjoying the social activity at RMH. Today they celebrated patients and siblings birthdays. People made tons of food and drink and cake. We brought out the tricycle and she loved being pushed around with the big kids on bikes.

Remember, you can order prints of The Gift by Eugenia Mancini Horan, as well as some other beautiful prints by her, for one more week. The majority of the proceeds will go to Donate Life!


Thank you to everyone! We’ve received so much support we are so thankful! You have kept us well stocked and fed and most importantly you have kept our spirits up and reminded us how much we need each other and what a difference we can all make, no matter how big or small.

Four Weeks with a new heart!

Welcome To The Short Stay Unit

We’ve been spoiled rotten. In the past, I mean, not now. I’m laying in a hospital bed. The last time I was in a hospital bed, Hana was a newborn. It’s 10:30 and the movie Frozen is playing on the other side of the curtain in our tiny shared room in the short stay unit at the hospital. The mom on the other side is talking on the phone. The door to the room is open. The lights are dimmed a bit. Monitors are beeping and IV alarms are sounding. 

They let Hana sleep in a hospital bed instead of a crib. It wasn’t my idea or request. Before I knew it they were ordering a bed instead of a crib like it were my idea so that I could lie in bed with Hana. It sounds like a lovely idea to me – cuddled up asleep next to your baby, when you couldn’t do it for months. But Hana is not crazy about the arrangement. She kept pushing me away. She likes her space, I guess. She is finally asleep.

Hopefully the 12-hour run of IVIG therapy goes well! We need more time out of the hospital. We got up really early this morning for the cath lab appointment. We had to be at the hospital at 6:30am. It went smoothly, her heart pressures are still high but they are coming down. The will get her biopsy results tomorrow. 

In more exciting news, the amazing Eugenia Mancini Horan is offering six more of her prints for a limited time where half the proceeds will be donated to Donate Life America. Check out the link to get a better look!

You can still support Donate Life America by ordering The Gift cards until June 26th and prints until July 1st.

Show your support for Donate Life!

Giggly Hana agter her versed.
Suiting up to go into the Cath Lab

A Long Day Coming Up

Tomorrow, Thursday, is going to be a long day. Hana has her cath/biopsy in the morning. Hopefully we will get to leave around lunchtime. Then we have to go back to the hospital in the evening for her overnight IVIG treatment. I am preparing for a lot of boredom and crankiness.

It’s the first time we will be taking Hana to the hospital for these treatments as an outpatient. I hope I remember to pack everything!

Today has been another great day. Hana is talking and happy. She still runs around and says, “Happy! Happy!” I wish I were more like her. After all she’s been through and all she has to face, she can still be happy and she can share it without hesitation. Maybe I’ll experiment with walking around and saying “I’m happy!” when I feel it.

But it’s hard sometimes. I try not to worry about the results from tomorrow’s catheterization and biopsy. I shouldn’t worry because there is nothing to worry about… Not until there is actually something to worry about and we don’t know when that will be. Maybe never. If I can really put that to rest than what else is left to feel? Happy!

If you would like to support saving lives with organ donation, please consider purchasing a print or cards of The Gift, a portrait of Hana by Eugenia Mancini Horan. The majority of proceeds are going to Donate Life America!

To order the print, only available until July 1st: http://eugeniamancinihoran.bigcartel.com/product/giclee-limited-edition-print-of-the-gift-a-tribute-to-hana-yago

To order a pack of five 5×7 greeting cards, only available June 26th: http://eugeniamancinihoran.bigcartel.com/product/fundraising-event-the-hana-card-pre-order-only-and-only-until-sunday-6-26

From our room at the Ronald McDonald House, we can watch the moon rise at night. Lately it’s been fantastic. Hana loves looking at it too (she’s been getting to bed way too late)!


Thank you for all the great gifts, packages, food, visits and decorations! It’s been great and very heartwarming.

Blood Pressure

This will be quick because it’s been a late night. Hana’s blood pressure machine, a fancy loaner from the hospital, was measuring her blood pressure very high, repeatedly. High, like 143/99 which is very high for a kid Hana’s age. At first, it was only giving me one number, which I assumed was the systolic pressure (top number). Then we started getting the high readings. I turned the machine on and off, switched the cuff from leg to leg and arm to arm. I swear when it was measuring on her arm that her hand was turning purple. So, then I had to call the on-call cardiology fellow at the hospital and wait. When I rechecked it about 45 minutes later, it was giving a blood pressure that I would expect. But all of this made for a late night of staying up and waiting.

Hana is doing great. We had a clinic appointment today with her primary heart transplant cardiologist. They decided to double her dose of blood pressure medication (and this is before all the crazy blood pressure readings) because her blood pressure has been creeping up a bit. The cardiologist also explained that he had been studying her donor’s antibodies for closely and he rates the match with Hana as a 3 out of 10. This sounds really low but he said most patients get a 0 out of 10 or maybe just a 1. I didn’t ask a lot of questions about this because it sounded good to me and I think even the other heart transplant cardiologists don’t quite fully understand this subject of matching and antibodies at this very specific detailed level.

If you would like to order Hana cards otherwise known as The Gift, they are now available! 


They are only available until June 26th! 

The regular print is still available:


And the print of Let Go still has a couple of prints available:


Support donating life by ordering a print or some cards, the majority of the price is going to Donate Life America!



Hana has had an explosion of new words, both spoken and using American Sign Language. Some things she only signs (like poopy diaper, it’s probably good she isn’t mentioning that out loud) and some things she only speaks. Her new favorite spoken word is “happy”! Of course, she is also using it in the proper context – she’s been really happy!

Today was my first day on my own – my mom left to fly back home very early this morning and Paul is trying to get back to the routine of working from the office every day. So far, so good! We walked to physical therapy (certainly there were some eyebrows raised at this, but it’s only one mile away) and the route I took was quite nice and peaceful. In the afternoon after her nap, Hana and I cleaned our room at the Ronald McDonald House (it’s been a long time since I’ve cleaned a bathroom!), we did a load of laundry and we washed a bucket of used syringes (I don’t miss washing syringes). If you were wondering NONE of the syringes we use have needles.

It was nice to do some normal things as we start to think about going back home again some day.

Once again, I’ll mention that the amazing Gina is offering prints of her paintings, The Gift and 10 prints of Let Go. The majority of the price of these prints are going to support Donate Life America which is committed to getting people registered and raising awareness about the importance of organ donation. In addition to the prints, Gina is going to offer 5×7 greeting cards of The Gift for $5 each, again with some portion going to Donate Life. If you are interested, please contact me or mention it in the comments with an email address where you can be contacted. Support a heart!!!

See the links for these amazing prints below.

The Gift

Let Go


A Great Summer Scamper

Today (Sunday) was the Summer Scamper and it was great! I heard that 3,500 participants raised about $550,000 for the hospital where Hana is treated. I finished the 10K at in 57 minutes and I felt good! My only regret is that I did not do enough for our Hana’s Heart team, next year we will get team shirts, at the very least! I will admit that I cried a little when we started running – sometimes it all just feels so big, all of this, this way of life, the huge depth of emotion through all of this.

Some of the Scamper team!

Hana had a good time too. We generally kept her away from the crowds and when we moved towards more people she wore her mask. She seemed to really enjoy watching the kids race and afterwards enjoyed running on the track! We also seemed to have constant hand sanitizing going on, the poor kid had hands sticky with so much sanitizer!

Thank you to Suzanne, Delphi, Travers, Megan and Susan for being part of our team! I hope we can have even more fun next year! Thank you to my mom and Paul, especially Paul on Father’s Day, for helping us get through the morning. Thank you to everyone who donated, you are awesome!

On the topic of donation, I’d like to remind you again that Eugenia Mancini Horan is offering prints of her painting, The Gift, until July 1st, with 50% of the proceeds going to Donate Life America in honor of Hana and her donor.


In addition, Gina is offering ten prints of the original painting that introduced me to her work, Let Go.

Please use the following link if you’d like to purchase one of the ten prints, again, 50% of the proceeds are going to Donate Life America: http://eugeniamancinihoran.bigcartel.com/product/let-go-new-large-sized-limited-edition-of-10-for-hana

Sunday Summer Scamper

Tomorrow (Sunday, Father’s Day) is the Summer Scamper race to benefit Lucile Packard Chikdren’s Hospital at Stanford. I will be running the 10K race! I haven’t had a chance to do much running over the last several weeks, so I hope I don’t hurt too much! If you’d like, I think you can still donate. Thank you to everyone who has donated! I hope we have some great pictures to share tomorrow!

Today has been a great day. We were all sad to see my dad go, but he has to get back home and get things taken care of. I’m kind of feeling the same way about our home in San Francisco. It’s been a dumping ground for things coming from the hospital – things she’s outgrown or are no longer useful or we just don’t have the room. Plus it’s kind of dusty and dirty and disheveled! Now, we need to start thinking about getting things ready for Hana to live there again in a couple of months!

Hana did a lot of walking and climbing and talking today! She also ate more than I’ve ever seen her eat – ice cream and cheese and bread. It’s not very nutritious but we have to start somewhere! Things at the Ronald McDonald House are going really well and we are enjoying the community feeling. Hana really likes watching all the big kids. 

Remember, prints of The Gift are available to order!

The Gift

21 days with the gift of a new heart!

The Gift Of Hana

This story begins several years ago when I was visiting one of my sisters in Sackets Harbor, NY (a lovely, idyllic little town on a bay of Lake Ontario). We wandered into the tiny art gallery and I saw a painting I loved, called “Let Go“. I couldn’t afford the painting but I bought a print that I took home and saved, tucked away. I saved it to hang in Hana’s room, when I knew we were having a girl. That’s where it is now. Before I hung it in Hana’s room I decided to look up the artist to see what she was up to lately and I started following her new work.

When Hana was in the hospital, the artist, Eugenia Mancini Horan, was selling a watercolor that I liked where the creature was blowing bubbles and it seemed fitting for Hana’s hospital room. To my surprise, when the watercolor came, so did a few new prints from the artist which I was happy to put on the walls for Hana. It was then that the artist, Gina, started following Hana’s story.

Then, Gina sent me a photo of a new painting that was emerging, it was a painting of Hana. When I showed it to Hana, she immediately said, “Hana!” 

Now, the painting, The Gift is finished! As a tribute to Hana, prints are available for a limited time with a portion of the proceeds going to Donate Life America

Here are Gina’s own words:

“The story of my painting – The Gift. It is my painted tribute to Hana Yago. I painted it before her transplant, painted it as I hoped to see her one day… No more tubes, no Berlin Heart, just a little girl with the eyes of an old soul that in her less than 2 years on earth has become to so many people known and unknown to her an inspirational sign of hope, tenacity, and stubborn determination to live. I know I am by far not the only one that has been captured and captivated by her story, that was effected by her lows – joyously celebrated the highs – no day more so than when Hana got her heart! It was very shortly after I finished the painting that her heart arrived, and it has been such an emotional journey watching the painting become more than hope – but now – reality!

And as much as in my head I like to think that Hana overcame her obstacles on her own, for I do believe if anyone were capable – it would be Hana! …I realize that there were so many factors in play to get her on the road to home and wellness that she is on now. Countless doctors, nurses, the unwavering and relentless support of her family, those that created the science and medicine that allowed her to live before getting her heart and now after… and one child, one incredible donor, that gave her a gift. A heart. Hope. A future. And that gift can not ever truly be repaid. 

But I would like to try in some way. To honor Hana’s story, and to pay tribute to the child whose heart made this day possible. I will be selling a limited edition of Giclee prints of Hana’s painting, and the proceeds will be given as a gift donation to an organization/organizations that Kathleen is still working to narrow down and will be announced this weekend (talk about limitless choices!!). Donations in Hana’s honor, paying tribute to her joy of life that is passed on to all of us, to help others in similar stories that have not gotten their happy ending, or is it happy beginning… Yet. Each person that contributes I will list and print out for Hana to have, so that one day Hana can see just how many people her life has touched. And hopefully the money will help to save others we aren’t aware of, as each and every person in need of an organ is someone’s ‘Hana.’

I will be selling the prints by pre-order only, so as to be able to donate as much as possible. (With a pre-order system I will know how exactly much paper to order/mailers/ink/etc.) Each print will be 11″x14″, printed on heavy 300gsm archival cotton rag paper with archival inks and protected in a sealed poly bag. They will be signed, numbered and dated, and the edition will close at the end of the ordering period, and no more of these prints will be made. As a bonus, I will do a small limited edition of 25 13″x19″ prints on 300gsm luster paper. I call it the Elite Edition, for those who might want a bit more of Hana!

So, if like me, you’ve been touched by Hana’s story, now is the time to do something to give back, and let her know… and to thank her for touching our hearts on her journey to get her own. I mean, if ever we needed to celebrate a truly awesome joyous story in the world – that time is now!”

Prints can be purchased here, until July 1st: http://eugeniamancinihoran.bigcartel.com/product/giclee-limited-edition-print-of-the-gift-a-tribute-to-hana-yago

Also, if you are on Facebook and want to follow this event you can follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/969128839870400/?ti=icl

We are so touched by all of this. It has been an amazing, incredible journey.

In other news, Hana continues to do well. She loves being outside more than anything (she always did, even as a little baby). She likes watching the big kids play! She had speech therapy at the outpatient clinic, which went very well. She has been enjoying time with my parents who are getting ready to leave over the next couple of days. She is starting to nibble on food more often! She seems very happy! (Thank you to whoever sent the new mask!)

20 days with a new heart!

The Gift