MEET MAGGIE HOPE
In 2007, after deciding they were done having children, Lissette and Stephen Lent discovered they were pregnant with their fourth baby. At 17 weeks pregnant, the family was told some very devastating news about their baby girl. Her brain, heart, and kidneys were not forming properly. Throughout the pregnancy, the news got worse and the idea of hope was not shared by most. Born May 13, 2008, Maggie Hope was immediately placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where she underwent multiple tests and was watched closely for weeks. In those unsettling moments Stephen and Lissette knew they had to step out of their despair, move forward and fight for hope.
Soon after she was home from the hospital, Maggie was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Trisomy 8 Mosaicism. A person with this syndrome has three complete copies (rather than the typical two) of chromosome 8 in some or most his or her cells. This condition can cause a wide range of mental and physical disabilities. In Maggie’s case, it caused developmental and physical delays, amongst other things. From the day she was born, she has been attached to a variety of devices: apnea monitor, feeding tube, cranial band, back and leg braces, walker, wheelchair and many more. Maggie has agenesis of the corpus callosum, which means the one hundred million nerve fibers connecting the right and left hemisphere of her brain never formed. This is the cause of Maggie’s learning and physical developmental delays along with her seizure disorder. Born tongue-tied, she under went two procedures to have it corrected but caused major problems with feeding and communication. Maggie was diagnosed as being non-verbal at five years old and can now sign over seventy words. Additionally, she uses a communication device to speak and against Doctor's expectations, she is now slowly learning to speak.
While in utero, Maggie’s Cardiologist and Urologist predicted she would need immediate open-heart surgery to repair her aortic bicuspid valve and correct her kidney reflux. Although the kidney surgery was completed, miraculously her heart surgery got postponed. Then six-month check-ups evolved into annual visits and eventually into an appointment every three years! As her Cardiologist states, Maggie is a walking miracle.
Maggie was assisted by the Foundation for Blind Children for the first three years of her life. They were instrumental in helping to strengthen her weak optic muscles caused by Duane Syndrome. This syndrome along with Cortical Visual Impairment have caused Maggie to wear glasses since she was a year old.
Due to Maggie’s scoliosis, various skeletal deformities, low muscle tone, and developmental delay, Doctors said that IF Maggie ever walked; it would not be until much later in her life. Once again, she surpassed their expectations and began walking around 3 and half years old! At the age of four, Maggie received bilateral surgery to reconstruct her feet. This kept Maggie in casts but never slowed her down. The surgery is a temporary success as additional foot surgery may be in her future. Not only does she walk, she LOVES to dance! Anything with a funky beat will get her moving and grooving! Unfortunately Maggie's scoliosis got progressively worse and in November of 2016 she received a limited spinal fusion and magnetic titanium rods were placed in her spine. She visits her Orthopedic Surgeon every two months to have them magnetically stretched as she grows. Maggie will receive a full spinal fusion in the Fall of 2020.
Because of severe GI reflux, Maggie refused to eat and was diagnosed "Failure to Thrive" when she was one year old. Eating was a painful experience for her, and she became resistant to anything around her mouth, throwing up at the sight of food. She had a G -Tube placed in her stomach and was tube fed for over three years. Slowly and with a lot of tears, Maggie regained interest and one day ripped out her tube. Today, her family cannot keep enough food in front of her. She loves to eat! Although the feeding issue has resolved, Maggie still suffers from severe constipation and takes daily medication to help her process her food.
In November of 2016, Maggie only being 8 years old, Lissette started noticing symptoms that shouldn't be happening so soon in her life. Consultations with a Pediatric Gynecologist began but the family felt brushed off. Lissette continued to fight for answers and finally got the testing for Maggie she had begged for. Unfortunately Maggie was misdiagnosed on multiple occasions and her symptoms continued but brought on extreme pain. Enough was enough and a new Doctor got involved that finally listened to the family's concerns. In November of 2019, 3 years later, Maggie was diagnosed with a Stage 3 Germ Cell, Yolk Sac Tumor. She is currently undergoing Chemotherapy. Click here for the most recent update.
After many procedures, surgeries and instrumental therapies, Maggie defies the odds and continues to surpass her Doctor’s expectations. Even through all of her struggles, she approaches life with more joy and delight than any other person you will meet. Her life is a beautiful display of strength and perseverance along with a perfect reflection of her name, HOPE.