Gianna Rose


Gia was born prematurely (30 weeks) in September, 2000.  She was a molar twin, a very unusual type of pregnancy (a molar pregnancy is not very rare, but with a viable fetus is extraordinary).  It was a form of a cancer with, at the time, only 19 documented cases. She weighed in at 3 pounds 14 ounces and was breathing on her own!  She was born in the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, and within a few days she was transferred to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis shortly after birth.  She had surgeries to repair a PDA and jejunal artresia.  She spent three months in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a week in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and a week on the pulmonary floor before (finally!) coming home!   

She spent most of the next three years at home.  She frequently visited the CF center as well as other specialists.  Subsequent hospital admissions include: adjustment of diuretics, umbilical hernia repair and a virus that quickly provoked a lung infection and a liver biopsy.  Home IV and/or oral antibiotics were used whenever possible to avoid hospital stays! 

Gia's liver enzymes were always high and being watched closely.  Her liver was abnormally large and a liver biopsy was done shortly after birth.  No pertinent findings were reported.  Since the enzymes were falling closer to the normal range, Actigal was prescribed and the liver was monitored by physical exam only.  During the transfer of this case from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to A.I. duPont Hospital for Children, the enlarged liver and elevated liver enzymes were investigated thoroughly.  The true cause was not CF liver disease, but Hepatoblostoma, a childhood cancer of the liver.  Gia had to undergo months of chemotherapy.  She ultimately needed surgery to resect the tumor.  Unfortunately resection was not possible so the surgeons at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore proceeded with transplant.  The new liver was in, and it turned pink.  Everything was looking good, but then Gia suddenly passed away. 

Gia was happy and always appeared healthy.  It was hard for many people to believe that anything was wrong.  Gia had the uncanny ability to smile at an unsuspecting stranger and quickly stun them by slipping off her hat.  She was able to change people’s thoughts of childhood cancer without using words.

Although our Gia is no longer with us physically, she lives in our hearts and minds.  Gia lives in the hearts and minds of the thousands of people she has touched around the world.  Gia’s smile is STILL, and will always be contagious. 

Now there are two Saint Gianna’s in heaven. 

Our Angel Gia