WATCH LIVE MEMORIAL STREAM HERE (December 29, 2020, at 11:00 AM MST)
Nora Mae Budge, 5 months old, of Saratoga Springs, Utah, passed away in the loving arms of her parents at Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City on December 18, 2020.
Her family was so excited to learn that a new baby would be joining their family—and that excitement was compounded when they found out that that baby would be a little sister. At 20 weeks of pregnancy, and thanks to a highly skilled ultrasound technician, Nora's parents learned that her heart might have had some abnormalities. Over the ensuing weeks and months, more complications were discovered, and they learned that Nora would likely need a heart transplant and be listed for one at birth, making her a part of a very special group of incredible, inspiring babies.
She was born on June 25, 2020, at the University of Utah Hospital, and was immediately handed off to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Though few expected her to survive birth, Nora insisted that her mission on earth was not quite accomplished yet, and in the adept hands of those doctors and nurses, she was stabilized. Within a few hours, she was transferred to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Primary Children's Hospital, where she would spend the majority of her life.
After only a few days in the CICU, Nora had her first open-heart surgery, where a ventricular assistance device called the Berlin Heart was placed, and where other repairs and changes were made to her heart to accommodate the device. This device, along with other needed support, would grant her the time she needed to wait on the heart transplant list.
Over the next several months, she got to play with and be held by her parents on a daily basis. Once she learned to smile, it seemed as though she couldn't be stopped from doing so. Even in the face of severe opposition—which she experienced in the form of infections and additional surgeries—her smile provided a bright light in the CICU. Doctors and nurses would often stop by her room when they were having a hard day, so that their spirits could be lifted by Nora's infectious smile, seen through the plastic window of her "scuba mask"—Nora's favorite mode of receiving BiPAP/CPAP breathing support.
After over 4 months of waiting, on November 3, 2020, in a truly selfless act on the part of the donor family, a heart was offered to Nora. Nora received the heart just two days later, with the operation performed by the same skilled surgeon who placed her Berlin Heart. In what had become typical Nora fashion, during the surgery and post-operative period, she experienced a couple of hiccups. Never wanting to make things too easy for her parents and her care team, Nora came out of the experience in kidney failure. She was placed on dialysis, with the hope that her kidneys would eventually recover.
After a couple of weeks of recovery in the CICU, her time was again filled with smiles, snuggly naps, reading books, and playing on her play mat. She even got to spend a couple of weeks in the Cardiac Care Unit, where she was on minimal breathing support, and many of her IV lines and tubes were removed.
That time became very precious and sacred, because after 5 weeks post-transplant, Nora began requiring more breathing support. Her dialysis had also become less effective, and thus had to be increased. After being back in the CICU for a couple of days, dialysis stopped working altogether. Because she was too small for a kidney transplant, and with no other feasible dialysis options, it was determined there was nothing more that could reasonably be done for Nora.
The last 27 hours of Nora's life were filled with love, comfort, peace, and smiles. Her grandparents got to hold her, and her siblings got to see her one last time. Nora passed away peacefully in her parents' arms on December 18, 2020, just one week shy of being 6 months of age.
Nora Mae Budge is survived by her parents, Lynsey and Jacob; her sister, Alice; and her brother, Luke.
Special thanks are extended to the incomparable medical care teams at Primary Children's Hospital. Nora's care was informed by the best knowledge and carried out at the highest skill level available on earth.
In order to best comply with local health guidelines, memorial services will be by invitation only. All are welcome to watch a live stream of the service on Tuesday, December 29, 2020, at 11:00 AM (MST).
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Pediatric Cardiology program at Primary Children's. Copy and paste this link: https://secure3.convio.net/ihchs/site/Donation2?df_id=1566&mfc_pref=T&1566.donation=form1
Be sure to choose the "Pediatric Cardiology" program, check the box that says "Yes, this is an honor or memorial gift", and enter Nora Budge as the name of the honoree.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Nora Mae Budge, please visit our floral store.