A Story of Heart and Hope

Hannah's senior photo
From the moment Hannah Ingraham was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) during a routine ultrasound, her life was set to be a remarkable journey of resilience and courage. HLHS is a severe congenital defect where the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. It was a life-altering discovery that made Hannah’s family face unimaginable choices.

The family’s fight began with a crucial decision to opt for a complex surgical plan for Hannah, undergoing three critical procedures at the ages of three days, three months and three years. To ensure the best medical care, they moved from Denver to New Jersey, positioning themselves near a specialist in Philadelphia. Their new home base allowed them to stay at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Philadelphia (RMHC), which provided not just lodging but a supportive community during the toughest times of Hannah’s surgeries.

RMHC became more than a place to stay, it was a sanctuary during Hanna’s first and second surgeries. For Hannah’s brothers, Zavien and Dillon, RMHC was a place of relief and normalcy. The proximity to the hospital and the comfort provided by RMHC significantly eased the family’s stress during this critical period.

“If it weren’t for RMHC, I truly don’t know how we would have managed. With other children to care for and so many concerns wrapped around Hannah’s needs, figuring out the logistics and financial aspects would have been overwhelming. We are immensely grateful for the support RMHC provided — it was truly a lifeline for our family,” shared Ruthie, Hannah’s mom.

Hannah’s medical journey was punctuated with challenges, including issues with blood oxygen levels that left her a “little blue baby” for a while. However, each surgery brought her closer to stability. The family moved back to Colorado due to her sensitivity to environmental factors in New Jersey. In Colorado, Hannah thrived, and her health continued to improve with each checkup and procedure, including a successful third surgery in Denver.

Growing up, Hannah faced challenges with physical activities due to her limited stamina, often finding herself unable to keep pace with her peers in sports. This early experience taught her to recognize and respect her physical boundaries. Now, with a better understanding of her capabilities, she actively maintains her fitness, visiting the gym four times a week.

Now on the cusp of her high school graduation, Hannah is a radiant and determined young woman, eager to embark on a career in healthcare. Inspired by her own medical journey, she is driven to pursue a nursing degree, committed to offering the same empathy and support that was pivotal during her treatments.

The Ingraham family’s deep appreciation for RMHC is evident in their ongoing commitment to giving back. Hannah’s Aunt Carol frequently volunteers at the RMHC Aurora House, where she prepares meals for the families staying there, creating a warm and welcoming environment. We were introduced to Hannah by her entrepreneurial cousin, Jackson, who donates his handmade soaps to the families at RMHC. This family-wide involvement underscores their dedication to supporting others facing similar health challenges, reflecting their profound gratitude and desire to make a positive impact within the RMHC community.

Reflecting on their experience, the Ingraham family can’t imagine managing without the support of RMHC. Hannah’s story is a powerful testament to the difference that community and healthcare support can make during a family’s most challenging times. It’s a narrative of hope, resilience and the incredible strength of a young woman who, against all odds, is ready to give back to the world that embraced her.