Community Love Helps Mend Broken Heart
Brynn Madeline Lewis received a heart transplant and is now home safe and sound in Henderson.
Love is something that can not be contained and one community has given East Texas an amazing love story in the past year and a half. This is the love story of a strong-willed little girl born literally with a broken heart and her hometown that loved her enough to bring her home.
Brynn Madeline Lewis was born on November 12, 2009, in Henderson with a rare heart defect. She was transported from Tyler to Dallas for evaluation and surgery. “We just thought we’d go find out what was wrong and then she would be home,” remarked her grandmother, Judy Lewis. But coming home was not an option for the small baby girl. She needed a new heart, badly. Normally there is a surgery that would fix her heart, but her condition was so bad that nothing, but a new heart would do. “You never think that something like this will happen to your family. She was our new baby and here we were afraid she was going to be gone,” her grandmother recalls.
At Dallas Children’s Hospital Brynn began the long fight for her life. Her doctors were trying each day to keep her stable. Sometimes her little heart would beat so fast that her parents and family were sure she was on the verge of a heart attack or stroke. The wish of the doctors was to keep Brynn off life support, fearing that once there she would never come off. Brynn and her family rallied and kept fighting.
Back home in Henderson friends at the Bar None Cowboy Church began to see the effects of this fight; physically, psychologically, spiritually and financially. They called on each other and the people of Henderson began quickly to fall in love with this little girl named Brynn.
Amy, Brynn’s mom, resigned her job with Henderson ISD early in the months after Brynn’s birth. She was staying at the hospital. “The community just began to give. It was not just money, but talents, prayers, rides for her big brother, food…it was everything.” Their church family at Bar None was also joined by other church families, local radio and perfect strangers to help this family keep going.
“The fundraiser committee named the group ‘Our Hearts are for Brynn.’ They just wanted to give all they could.” Hamburger suppers, craft sales, Bows for Brynn and the famous yard sign campaign all surround the Lewis family with love. The family was overwhelmed at times how their community loved so completely. Even the youth of Henderson and Rusk County gave. The children’s bible study of Good Hope Free Will Baptist Church gave their offering for Brynn and her mom. Love knew no boundaries and came freely from all that heard Brynn’s story.
The high school hosted a track meet in her honor, people donated time, businesses gave freely and one couple even gave their savings to help the young family as they traveled back and forth. All gifts given with a passion and zeal that made the long time away from family and the many miles much easier.
When the news came that a heart was ready the Lewis family felt great relief, but then tragedy struck as the heart that arrived was too large for this baby girl’s small chest. Her body was ready to receive the gift, but the excitement was in vain. Then another family woke on Mother’s day 2010 to the loss of a child. The Lewis family will probably never know this family that donated their baby’s heart for Brynn, but they are never far from their thoughts and prayers. This, the second heart, was a Mother’s Day gift Amy Lewis and her family will forever be amazed by.
“The change was almost immediate. Her doctor looked and commented mere hours after surgery that her toes were pink and plump something they had not been since her birth,” Judy Lewis smiles as she talks about her granddaughter.
“She was always such a patient baby. So many wires and machines were tugged and tangled just to hold her. She did protest and cry, but she was happy and continues to grow in that happy mood.” Brynn arrived home to highways lined with signs and balloons once the doctors gave the all clear that the baby could leave the Dallas area. She is growing from the love that friends, neighbors, and strangers keep providing for her cause. Early on her mother started a blog for friends to keep everyone in the know about Brynn’s ups and downs. Friends started a Facebook page to help with fundraising. You can friend Brynn Lewis on Facebook and also help with any donations you can. If you wish to make a donation, you can make your check or money order out to “The Brynn Lewis Fund” and send it to Citizens National Bank, P.O. Box 1009, Henderson , Texas 75653 .
“ People will never know how much this community has gifted us and we are blessed to be apart of such love,” grandmother Judy said. She and Johnny Lewis are the proud grandparents of this 14-month old granddaughter and her big brother Brady.
A broken heart can be mended with love, the spirit to fight and in this love story the will of one community to make sure one little girl came home.