Follow-Up Friday: Daniel’s Heart Is Helping Him Reach Milestones As His Family Supports Others

By Evan Koch

Daniel was 8 months old when his mother, Staci Geiger, wrote about her family’s experience at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital following his diagnosis with a rare and complex congenital heart defect.

Staci’s “heart warrior” had experienced five surgeries and spent 110 nights at Children’s Heart Center by the time he was just 5 months old to address hypoplastic left heart syndrome, the severe underdevelopment of the left side of the heart that put his life in danger.

Both Daniel and Staci have been busy since returning home.

Happy Birthday, Daniel!

Recently, Daniel celebrated his first birthday surrounded by 30 family members at the Geigers’ home outside Temple, Texas. Aside from a little shyness at being around so many people at once, Daniel handled it as just another day.

But the party represented a special benchmark for his parents.

“Daniel’s first birthday is such a huge deal because we didn’t know if he was going to make it here when he was diagnosed,” Staci said. “He had a lot of complications.”

Daniel is reaching developmental milestones at an increasing rate. A few months ago he began sitting up on his own. He is now crawling and starting to pull himself into a standing position. Staci expects him to start walking soon.

“Daniel is doing amazing,” Staci said. “In addition to spending months in the hospital, he was also born six weeks premature, so it’s just miraculous that he is doing what many other 1-year-olds can do.”

The Geigers Return to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital

Two days before Daniel’s first birthday, Staci and her husband, Brian Geiger, returned to the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital with 50 care packages for parents of children with congenital heart defects who were awaiting or recovering from surgery. The Geigers raised funds and assembled the care packages on their own.

“The care packages are intended to bring a little bit of joy to the recipients,” Staci said. “Each item included was inspired by something I had received from supportive people while we were in the hospital with Daniel.”

Items included were flavored coffee creamers, hand lotion, a coffee mug, comfortable socks, prayer cards, a notebook, the book “The Heart of a Mother,” and a onesie made by a friend that opens in the front so patients can wear it in the hospital bed.

“There are so many motivations to create the care packages,” Staci said. “Within 24 hours of us receiving Daniel’s diagnosis, I had the contacts of 10 people who had children with heart problems. These moms – whom I didn’t know – reached out to me and supported our heart journey with Daniel.”

The Geigers are looking to do more to support children and families who have the unique shared experiences of long hospital stays and special care at home with complex medical conditions. Staci has started Daniel’s Lion Heart Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting families impacted by congenital heart disease.

The foundation will ramp up fundraising efforts in October to have care packages prepared in December for congenital heart defect patients and families once they go home.

“I feel inspired to support other heart families in honor of all the heart moms who opened their hearts and lives to me,” Staci said. “These amazingly strong people are one of ways God has blessed me in this journey. I want to do whatever I can to serve others in love the way many have served me.”

Learn more about pediatric heart conditions like Daniel’s. To contact Children’s Heart Center at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, fill out a Contact Us form here.

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