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Criss was 23 weeks pregnant with her twin girls, Alexia and Celeste, when prenatal tests showed that the babies had signs of congenital heart defects.

In the midst of grieving the diagnosis, Criss and her husband, Americo, also learned there was hope—their doctor in Roseville recommended they seek the help of the expert care team at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

“Within days, I was walking through the doors of the hospital that would change our lives forever,” says Criss.

At Packard Children’s, Criss met with obstetricians, neonatologists, geneticists, and a nephrologist who conducted a series of blood tests, urine samples, ultrasounds measuring fetal growth, and finally, the highly anticipated scan to see the twins’ heart defects. The anomalies seen in the girls’ hearts, kidneys, and umbilical cord were consistent with 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder that can affect nearly any part of the body.

“The 22q diagnosis allowed us to prepare for the girls’ birth and discuss necessary treatments along with open-heart surgeries to repair their congenital heart defects,” says Criss.

Immediately after birth, Alexia and Celeste received care from a medical team awaiting their arrival in our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). During their critical first week of life, the NICU team monitored their hearts, kidneys, and nutrition, and watched for an array of medical issues that can be presented in children with 22q. Within months, both had open-heart surgeries.

“If it weren’t for the team at Packard Children’s, I don’t know how we would have dealt with the girls’ health challenges,” says Criss, “The amount of knowledge housed within the professionals at Stanford is truly incredible.”

Today, Alexia and Celeste are looking forward to their 7th birthday in July.

“To donors who support Packard Children’s: your donations allow vital research to continue,” Criss adds. “Your donations help families like mine receive critical services for their children. You give families hope and many patients a second chance in life!”

Join us on June 24 as Celeste and Alexia participate in their first Summer Scamper. Thanks to your support, neonatology research saves the lives of babies like them every day at our hospital.

Celeste and Alexia are #WhyWeScamper.

Register today for the 8th annual Summer Scamper on Sunday, June 24, 2018, and support care, comfort, and cures for more kiddos like Celeste and Alexia.