Community opens heart to girl awaiting transplant

Superior Telegram | Maria Lockwood

Aria Rose Grams, 1, rests in her bed at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The South Range girl is on the nationwide transplant list for a heart. Family and friends will host a benefit for Aria and her family Saturday at the Belgian Club. (Submitted Photo)

Hooked up to a battery of machines, Aria Rose Grams can still turn a curious eye to her toys, give her parents the gift of occasional smile and whisper "Hi, Daddy." The 1-year-old South Range girl is a warrior.

"She’s strong; she’s a fighter," said her father, Joshua Grams.

They named her well.

"Aria means ‘melody,’" said her grandmother, Billie Van Ert. "In Hebrew, it means ‘lioness.’"

Less than two weeks after her first birthday, Aria went into cardiac arrest and collapsed at home. An ultrasound in Duluth revealed Aria had an enlarged heart. She was later airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis where the 1-year-old was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, a rare condition in which the heart muscle does not relax normally between heartbeats. After three cardiac arrests, six open-heart surgeries and dozens of blood transfusions, Aria is waiting for a heart transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

"She’s just the cutest little girl," Grams said. "That year I had with her, I got to love her, see her personality."

The tot’s mother, Tara, hasn’t seen their home for three months. For weeks, her father has slept at her bedside on a cot. Siblings Tristan, 5, and Noah, 3, are also close, living at the Ronald McDonald House until school starts. Continue reading