8-year-old girl dies after battle with heart problems

Lily Whitaker with her dad, Brian. Courtesy photo

After a battle with Adenoviruses and heart problems, 8-year-old Lily Whitaker passed away at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles on Friday.

“We used to call her Lily Ray of Sunshine,” said Danielle Whitaker, Lily’s mother. “She was sweet and caring, and she left such an impact.”

The Santa Clarita girl went into cardiac arrest early Tuesday at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles after doctors discovered excess fluid around her heart. Her mother reported that medical personnel spent an hour and a half performing CPR on Lily before putting her on life support machines. 

“The signs were up and down,” said Kirk Stinson, a close family friend, describing the ordeal as an emotional roller coaster.

Doctors were concerned that bleeding in Lily’s heart wouldn’t stop and while they were giving her blood, she was also losing too much.

Lily and Danielle Whitaker. Courtesy photo

While on life support, medical staff administered Factor VII to help stop the bleeding, which did work for a short period of time.

On Wednesday, Lily was put on dialysis to help support her kidneys and doctors told parents that they were going to need to perform open heart surgery to clean up and remove excess fluid.

“It looked promising,” Danielle Whitaker said.

On Thursday, the doctors were unable to get to the inside of Lily’s heart to clean it. After another dose of Factor VII, a new machine in her heart and hours of praying, Doctor’s told the Whitakers to prepare for the worst.

On Friday afternoon, doctors took Lily off of life support.

“I got in bed with her and held her the entire time,” Danielle Whitaker said. “They took the tubing out of her face and nose so I could hold her.”

Her mother, father and brother were with her when she died.

Lily and Dylan Whitaker. Courtesy photo

“Last week, she was a vibrant, happy girl,” Stinson said. “This week, she was gone.” 

Lily’s cause of death was related to the Adenoviruses, which will rarely reach a patient’s heart, according to Lilly’s mother.

The week prior, Lily reported not feeling well, but still wanting to go on a field trip with her school. Eventually, her signs of illness got worse and her mother took her to Henry Mayo for assessment. They later airlifted her and her mother to Children’s Hospital.

Before the girl’s death, Stinson reached out to the community in an effort to inspire people to give blood that may help Lily’s battle.

The response, Stinson described, was unbelievable.

“There were people calling me, messaging me, asking how they could help and donate,” he said. “Lily’s memory needs to go on.”

According to Stinson, a blood drive at a little league field in Granada Hills is still accepting donations.

“It’s really important for people to keep (donating),” Danielle Whitaker said. “There’s other people on that hospital ward that are in need. Knowing Lily, she would want us to continue on.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Lily’s family.

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