Her family has done an amazing job of caring for Hanna, with hospitalization, surgeries, travel for medical treatment in addition to raising their second incredible daughter. However, they are in real need of financial help after the loss of Hanna.
Hanna was born on May 3, 1992 and her family “knew early on she was special”! It was obvious from the beginning that “her spirit was mighty”, but she wasn’t thriving. She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at the age of 2 months. She continued to battle her CF during her early years, endured numerous hospital stays and surgeries, medications and breathing treatments. Throughout her battle with CF, "she kept a positive attitude and charged ahead". Being a bright child, she would challenge the doctors and nurses, gaining their admiration with her determination and drive.
As the disease took its toll in early 2006, it was determined she needed a double-lung transplant. She and her mom moved to Houston to be close to Texas Children's Hospital where the procedure would be performed, which she finally received on her parent’s anniversary; the “best gift they could have received”, according to them.
While in high school, Hanna suffered a ruptured colon, requiring another serious surgery - and experienced, yet again, another miraculous recovery in her journey. She graduated in 2010 and began pursuing a nursing degree at Truman State. Then, just before final exams in Dec. 2012, at 20 ½ yrs. of age, her health began a steady decline. She spent weeks at KU Medical Center, wound up on a breathing machine and was eventually life-flighted back to Texas Children’s Hospital.
Undergoing a treatment that almost took her life, the doctors were able to save her, but she experienced chronic rejection of her transplanted lungs and needed a second one. She also began battling diabetes and was suffering just to survive from day to day. In Aug. 2013 she received her second lung transplant and finally returned home after months of recovery that October.
The family traveled back and forth from KC to Texas for many treatments afterward. In 2014 Hanna was diagnosed with a rare, and often fatal, fungal disease in her sinuses, requiring a number of surgeries. She once again beat the odds and overcame this, although it took quite a toll on her kidneys. Hanna decided to go back to school to become a physical therapy assistant.
Then her health began a steady decline in 2016, with her kidneys failing; there was a determination that she needed a kidney transplant. She suffered a lot of pain with therapy and did not respond well. Hanna's heart was struggling and there were many trips in and out of the hospital for treatment.
In early July of this year, she was diagnosed with a blood infection, and it was found that it had attached to her heart. The transplant hopes were not looking good for Hanna. Her family says that it was her faith that got her through these final months. Hanna was tired, beat down and suffering every day…
(Please read Hanna's full story below - written so from the heart and given to us so beautifully at her visitation, by her dad, Martin --and also go to her Facebook page here to experience her daily struggles, yet see the strong determination, courage and faith that defined Hanna all throughout her lifetime.)
During this time, Hanna would laugh with us, tell us just how it was and what to do, all while quoting her favorite bible verses and playing us her amazing contemporary Christian songs of hope. Inspiring all of us to have faith and believe in the future. (Quote from her Dad): "Last Friday she spoke of a long conversation she had with God and she was completely at peace with herself and her situation." Our Hanna was such an amazing testimony to faith and our amazing God.
After finally being released from the hospital Friday, July 29th, "she was blessed with 3 of the best days she had had in quite awhile". On Monday her boyfriend, Philip, asked Hanna to spend the rest of her life with him, to which she enthusiastically said yes! She went to bed around midnight, awoke later, having a hard time breathing and shortly afterward, her heart failed.
Hanna left us all to go home and be with Jesus in the very early morning hours Tuesday, August 1, 2017. She leaves behind a grieving Mom (Sonya), Dad (Martin), sister (Haley), fiancé (Philip), and with them the struggle of many medical bills compounded by funeral & burial costs, which add to their burden. We, her church sisters, are asking for your help to relieve that burden on her family.
"While we miss her more than anything in this world, it's our turn to suffer her pain while she is in a much better place. . . God answered our prayers. . . She has suffered enough, it was time for someone else. We will gladly suffer now for her peace, and rejoice in her new life."
With plans to already create a medical Go Fund Me campaign, we are now hoping and praying you will consider donating to the needs of this beautiful and faithful family. No amount is too small, it will help tremendously and will be greatly appreciated by the family.
"We believe we know God's path for Hanna. He gave us one of his angels to spread His message to the many people that Hanna touched in her life. When she had endured enough, He took her swiftly in His arms and delivered her from her pain. Thanks be to God, and thanks be to Hanna for the many tremendous memories you gave us."
Thank you for taking the time to read and learn about our precious Hanna. Her full life story is below:
*(all quotes come from her family's story)
Written from the heart by Martin Mills:
A Tribute to Hanna's Life
We knew early on that Hanna was special. She decided to join this crazy journey beginning on a late Saturday evening while we were cleaning crappie at Stockton Lake. After about 20 hours of labor she decided to arrive face up to say hello to her new parents.
It was obvious fairly quickly that Hanna was going to be an adventure when she was not thriving like a normal new born should and was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) at two months of age.
Hanna was always small for her age (small in stature as we used to like to say), but her spirit was mighty. She continued to battle CF throughout her early years having numerous hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and breathing treatments. Throughout it all, she kept a positive attitude and charged ahead. She was a bright child who was ahead of her years. She would challenge the doctors and nurses, but gained their admiration through her determination and drive.
Hanna was a very good student and made great grades despite the amount of classroom time she missed while in and out of the hospital. She continued her battle with CF, but the disease was really taking it’s toll on her. Hanna’s lung function continued to decline until it fell below 30%. It was determined that she would be a candidate for a lung transplant.
Hanna was approved for her transplant in early 2006 and she and her mother, Sonya, moved to Galveston, TX to be close to the transplant center at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, TX. It was an enormous undertaking, but it was her only chance for survival. Finally, Hanna received her first double lung transplant on May 17, 2006, her parents’ 20th year wedding anniversary. At one point in the surgery, the doctors came out and told us it wasn’t looking good and was in God’s hands at that point. As was usually the case with Hanna when facing dire straits, she pulled through and amazed the doctors with her recovery. It was truly another miracle and the best anniversary gift that any parents could ever receive.
Hanna did very well recovering from the surgery and with follow-up care. Then while in high school, we would get another scare. Hanna had a rupture in her colon that required emergency surgery. At one point, it was not sure whether she would make it through the surgery. In an attempt to save her, the surgeon tried a new procedure, and with Hanna’s fight on his side, the surgery was a success. We had dodged yet another bullet in her miraculous journey.
Hanna would graduate high school in 2010 and begin pursuing a nursing degree at Truman State University. This was probably the best few years of her life as her lungs were healthy, although she still battled some of the other problems associated with CF.
In mid December 2012, just before completing her final exams finishing up the first half of her junior year, we got a call from Hanna one night asking us to come to Kirksville. She wasn’t feeling well and needed to get to the hospital. Hanna was 20 ½ years old, and this would begin a steady decline in her overall health. She was at KU Medical Center for about three weeks, eventually ending up on a breathing machine. She was life-flighted to Texas Children’s Hospital on new year’s eve 2012.
Hanna underwent a number of treatments including a rabbit serum treatment that nearly took us from her again. Fortunately, Houston has some of the greatest doctors in the world, and they were able to save her, determine what they had done wrong, and was able to complete the procedure successfully. Unfortunately, she had experienced chronic rejection of her transplanted lungs, and was in need of a second lung transplant.
Due to her age, it was decided that she would receive her second double lung transplant at Houston Methodist Hospital. Hanna’s overall medical condition was much worse than prior to the first transplant, so the odds were once again stacked against her. Once again we relocated to Houston for a second transplant. Hanna continued to decline in health and also began battling diabetes. In early August 2013, she was at less than 20% lung function and was not doing well at all. She was suffering day to day just to survive.
On August 23, 2013 (her dad’s 50 ½ birthday), she received her second double lung transplant. Due to her poor health going into this surgery, recovery would be no where as quick as it was the first time. Hanna was moved to Kindred Rehabilitation Center, an inpatient care facility in Houston, for her post transplant recovery. Hanna would spend nearly two months in rehabilitation before she would be released. Once again, she had set a date to get out, pushed herself to the limit, and exceeded any and all expectations for her recovery. She returned home in late October 2013.
Hanna continued to travel back and forth between Kansas City and Houston for her follow-up care. She would slowly improve, and then we received some very bad news in 2014. Hanna was diagnosed with Mucormycosis in her sinuses, a rare and often fatal fungal disease. Treatment immediately began with a powerful drug called amphotericin and surgical removal of infected tissue within her sinuses. This required a number of surgeries to fully eradicate the infected tissue.
Once again, she beat the odds and amazed the doctors, and overcame the Mucormycosis. Unfortunately, the amphotericin necessary to treat the fungus took its toll on her kidneys. Hanna continued to improve from the lung transplant and decided to try and go back to school to become a physical therapy assistant.
Hanna continued to pursue her associates degree. In early 2015, our family decided we would take the vacation that we had all dreamed of for some time. It was always so hard to plan something in advance with the unknown what might transpire with Hanna’s health. She had always wanted to go to Hawaii. So anyway, with a hope and a prayer, we booked an eight day vacation to Hawaii to spend four days on Waikiki Beach and four days on the Big Island over the July 4th holiday. It turned out to be a wonderful decision. We were able to enjoy a fabulous trip. It did turn out to be the once in a lifetime opportunity that we had always hoped for.
Hanna’s health began to decline into 2016 as her kidney function continued to decline. While the lungs seemed to be holding their own, things overall just weren’t improving. By mid 2016, it was determined that Hanna needed a kidney transplant. She was evaluated by KU Medical Center, and after nearly five months, was declined. This was really devastating to Hanna. We made the decision to travel back to Houston Methodist and apply for a kidney transplant there. Upon evaluation, it was determined that Hanna’s poor kidney function had created some issues with her heart function, and she was not currently healthy enough to undergo a kidney transplant.
In February of this year, Hanna began hemodialysis. She did not respond well to hemodialysis and was in a lot of pain from the treatments. It was decided that she would switch to peritoneal dialysis in hopes that it would be more gental on her body. In May of this year, she received training and the move was made to this daily in-home form of dialysis. While Hanna did respond better to the peritoneal dialysis, she still had body aches and was in an out of the hospital regularly. In addition, there did not seem to be any improvement in her heart function. Hanna’s hopes of a kidney transplant were beginning to look less and less likely. While this continued to hurt her morale, she continued to push forward, but things just continued to stack up against her.
In early July, Hanna was diagnosed with a blood infection. Further investigation revealed that the bacteria had attached to her heart. Indications started to show up on her EKG that were not promising. The odds for a kidney transplant just weren’t looking good. This continued to weigh upon her.
Hanna’s faith is what pushed her through these final months. She was tired, beat down, and suffering through every day. Last Friday, she spoke of a long conversation she had with God and she was completely at peace with herself and her situation. She got out of the hospital on Saturday and was blessed with three of the best days she had had in quite a while. She went to the Sporting match on Saturday night, had a peaceful Sunday, and went shopping and out to dinner with her fiancé on Monday. After watching a movie Monday night and getting hooked up for dialysis, she went to bed about 12:30 am. At 1:18 am, her dad’s phone rang and it was Hanna. She was having trouble breathing. It only went downhill from there. We are pretty sure she suffered from some type of heart failure. Within just a few minutes, we had lost her. It was really pretty peaceful and quick.
While we miss her more than anything in this world, it’s our turn to suffer her pain while she is in a much better place. We don’t know how many times in the 25 years with her we’ve asked God for the ability to switch places with her and endure her pain for her. Also, after seeing her suffer so much in 2013 just trying to take a breath, we also prayed to God not to ever let her suffer like that again and to take her swiftly home when it was her time. God answered both of our prayers Tuesday morning. She had suffered enough, it was time for someone else. We will gladly suffer now for her peace, and rejoice in her new life.
We believe we now know God’s path for Hanna. He gave us one of his angels to spread his message to the many people that Hanna touched in her life. When she had endured enough, he took her swiftly in his arms and delivered her from her pain. Thanks be to God, and thanks be to Hanna for the many tremendous memories you gave us.
- Lisa Gioia
- Paola Gil
- Susan McMichael
Organizer and beneficiary
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