SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — A South Jordan girl born three months early in 2015 wasn’t expected to survive.
Zariah Donovan spent three and a half years in the intensive care unit.
“At some points, we didn’t think she would make it through the night,” said Shawn Donovan, Zariah’s father.
Friday marked a milestone worthy of costumes and yellow brick road.
“It’s her very first birthday. She’s four, and it’s her very first birthday home,” said V. Donovan, Zariah’s mother.
Zariah spent nearly all of her life in intensive care with lung problems. She was born so early, three hospitals refused to treat her.
“In her first year of life, she had to have heart surgery to close her PDA valve. She had pneumonia three times. She ended up having 12 blood transfusions,” Shawn said.
For most of her life, Zariah’s home was a specialty ICU in Ohio. To be with her, Shawn quit his career and moved. Zariah’s mom and older sister had to stay behind in Utah.
“This has shown me there is more than just work. Life is more than just money. It’s about family and friends,” Shawn said.
To the shock of doctors, Zariah came home in January with a special ventilator.
“If you think about it, she has probably experienced more than most people will in a lifetime,” V. said, Zariah’s mother.
Being home healed Zariah in ways never thought possible. In July, she took her first steps.
“For all the battles and all the hurdles, she has not backed down,” Shawn said.
Wearing ruby red slippers, Zariah takes a few more steps on a yellow brick road laid out in her home on Friday.
“There is no place like home, at all,” V. said.