Give For Texans – Lola’s Story

Lola and Family

A mother’s story: Love for Lola

The journey for saving Lola’s life began before she was born. Laura and Bryan Catron’s unborn baby was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, meaning her heart didn’t develop quite as expected. She would require surgery within days of her arrival.  

“Doctors called it Double Inlet Single Left Ventricle Hypoplastic Aortic Arch with an Atrial Septal Defect,” said Laura.  

Knowing a long hospitalization loomed, close friends started a GoFundMe account for the Catrons in advance of Lola’s arrival, to confront the couple’s forthcoming financial load. This post appeared on Lola’s birthday:

“October 4, 2016 –
Lola blessed her parents with her sweet presence today. She entered the world fighting but she still has a long road ahead of her. Her parents will be by her side at every possible moment helping their beautiful baby on the path to getting her heart healthy! Please help this wonderful family as they stay strong on their journey to bring Lola home.”

Photos of Lola are courtesy of the Catron Family and Chelsea Hafner Photography.

Three days later, Lola underwent her first of three, open-heart surgeries. Thankfully, blood availability was one thing the Catrons didn’t have to worry about. Blood donors who gave with Carter BloodCare ensured there was blood on the shelf for patients like Lola, in advance of surgery. Lola had two more open-heart surgeries – in January 2017 and another in January 2020 – only months after her first and third birthdays.

Laura posted a message on the GoFundMe page before Lola’s second surgery: “Our daughter is strong, she is a fighter, and she will make it through this and have a story to tell. We love you Lola Mae, so, so much.”

The Catrons pay it forward with their Love for Lola blood drives. Laura also takes advantage of every opportunity to speak of the importance of blood donation, as well as the significance it played in her daughter’s current health. Laura delivered the keynote address at Carter BloodCare’s 2021 Donor Recognition Banquet in Frisco.

“Thirty strangers helped save Lola’s life. We are grateful for each of those blood donors and how they continue to save others’ lives, too,” Laura shared. “After the third surgery, Lola had so much oxygen she could finally run. My daughter now runs and runs and runs. I guess she’s making up for lost time.”

The Catrons like to remind people that Lola is more than her heart condition. They describe their 5-year-old as funny and say she enjoys playing with her baby sister, Eleanor. Laura also reminds people Lola’s heart is bandaged, not broken.