Riese's Story

Memories Captured by H2Photo Hope Hanson Photography

Tiny Light Riese is a little fighter who brings joy to her family with her bright smile. Riese is a happy baby who loves playing with her toys, listening to music and being sung to all day long. She especially lights up when she sees her funny big brother Chase.

At birth, Riese was diagnosed with Down syndrome, as well as tracheoesophageal fistula (a condition in which the esophagus is not attached to the stomach) and a heart defect (AVSD). At only four days old, Riese underwent surgery to repair her esophagus and at three months she had open-heart surgery. Due to her small size (six pounds) and complicated valves, the surgery was not as successful as the doctors had hoped and, as a result, a pulmonary band was put in place, which would allow Riese to grow. Two weeks after the surgery Riese was finally able to go home from the hospital, a wonderful day for her family.    

For Riese’s parents it was difficult to leave the birthing hospital without their baby daughter and then watch as she underwent constant IVs, hundreds of needles, and a myriad of tests. But most difficult of all was to hand over their baby to a surgical team — and just wait. However, these challenges have been made more bearable by supportive family and friends and by seeing the joy that their daughter brings to those around her. “Having our daughter and seeing how she has grown and watching her touch people's lives [has made] our worlds better,” says Riese’s mother. 

While Riese has to undergo a second open-heart surgery in the near future, her parents hope it will be the last. They look forward to watching her grow up with her brother, living a life filled with love and accomplishing her dreams.