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Indianapolis children's hospital helps family pay for baby's open-heart surgery

Now 20 months old, Sophia Stebing is a fighter.

INDIANAPOLIS — Each year, Riley Hospital for Children's Christmas Giving Campaign raises money to help offset treatment costs for local children and their families. 

Most are dealing with serious illness or conditions, like the Stebing family from Avon. 

Soon-to-be parents Chris and Jessica Stebing were looking forward to learning the gender of their baby when an ultrasound revealed a surprising diagnosis.

Their little one would be born with Down syndrome and a hole in her heart that would require open heart surgery soon after birth. 

Now 20 months old, daughter Sophia Stebing is a fighter. Her parents say they have Riley to thank for the smile they get to see every day.  

RELATED: Westfield couple giving back to Riley Hospital staff who helped their children through cancer battle

The Stebing family was referred to Riley immediately after that early diagnosis.

It was a high-risk pregnancy for mom. Jessica was monitored every few days for fears of a stillbirth before it was time to deliver.

Credit: Stebing family

"We have a video of the C-section, and there were so many doctors and staff in the room" Chris recalled. "She had one nurse who just stood by her bed for hours, making sure she was comfortable, making sure everything was okay." 

Five months later, Sophia underwent open-heart surgery.

"[To hear] they're going to cut open her chest and work on her like that was pretty scary" Chris said, recalling the uncertain moments after her diagnosis. 

Credit: Stebing family

At a glance, it's easy to see how far Sophia has come since her open heart surgery. Like a typical toddler, "she likes to get into the cabinets. She loves anything that lights up and dances," her mom said. 

Her parents are transparent about the challenges that are still ahead for her daughter but are grateful for the care she's had so far. 

"So many developments have been made that even if your child [is] like ours, or is maybe going to be born with a heart condition, that doesn't mean that they can't live a full and joyous life, and that their health can be greatly improved with places like Riley Children's Hospital," Jessica said.

Credit: Stebing family

You can learn more about how the Riley Children's Foundation helps families like the Stebings or make a contribution to its Christmas Giving Campaign here.