When 7-year-old Gabrielle Smelko, of Dayton, blew out the candles for her birthday on March 31, her mother, Rachel, realized that after major health complications and slim-to-none chances of survival at birth, celebrating Gabrielle’s healthy life was a wish come true.
Born with a diaphragmatic hernia, as well as needing a Tracheal tube for breathing, a Gtube for feeding and a pacemaker, seeing Gabrielle reach age 7 in good health is a miracle for her family. Without Medicaid to help the family afford health costs, her mother, Rachel, would never have seen her little girl grow.
“Without Medicaid she more than likely wouldn’t have been able to leave the hospital and I would never have her at home with me,” says Rachel. “We just celebrated her seventh birthday, and when I watch her, when I look at her, I see that she’s my own living miracle.”
In school, Gabrielle is the girl on the playground in the middle of the action playing tag with her friends. Every day, Gabrielle is the little girl people meet once and never forget her. But without Medicaid ensuring she receives the six medications and pulmonary pump needed to stay healthy, helping her get the speech, physical and occupational therapy she requires, Gabrielle’s life would be drastically different. Instead of playing with friends on the jungle gym, a lack of Medicaid would have Gabrielle growing up in a hospital.
“If Medicaid wasn’t helping me out, I would never be able to afford to take care of my little girl,” Rachel says. “When Medicaid one time was going to stop paying for a medication, I went to find out the cost and half a month was $240. Some of her prescriptions have to be shipped in which would cost even more than that. There’s no way I could pay for her medication if we didn’t have Medicaid.”
While she still sees doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital annually, and receives therapy at Dayton Children’s throughout the year, today Gabrielle is a healthy 7-year-old girl. Medicaid has helped grant Gabrielle and her family’s wishes by providing her with support throughout her life to beat the odds and overcome her medical conditions.
“When she was first born they said she more than likely wouldn’t survive, and her chances were slim to none,” Rachel says. “Looking at her now, though, you wouldn’t know that. Today she’s great. She’s my healthy, happy-go-lucky little miracle.”
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