Annapolis baby around whom an Arundel school rallied dies

Teachers' child was born with a heart defect

March 26, 2002|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

Emily Smith, the 9-month-old Annapolis girl who was born with a hole in her heart and whose struggle inspired the generosity of students at Arundel High School, died Sunday at Children's National Medical Center in Washington.

The cause of death was heart failure and a viral infection, said her mother, Julie Smith. She and her husband, Bill, were at Emily's side when her heart stopped about 6:30 a.m. - the child's favorite time of day, her mother said.

"She always liked the morning sun on her face," Julie Smith said yesterday. "It was time for her to go, I guess, and ultimately her heart gave out."

Julie and Bill Smith teach at Arundel High in Gambrills - Julie in the English department, Bill in social studies - and during the past few months, their students and colleagues have rallied to support them as they coped with their daughter's medical problems.

In one week this month, students raised $7,213 to help with Emily's medical bills. And last week, the Anne Arundel County school system approved a request from teachers to donate unused sick time to the Smiths. More than 100 days had been donated.

"We are a family here, and it was a sad day for us," Arundel High Principal Nathaniel Gibson said yesterday. "Many, many of our students were involved in the fund-raiser."

Julie Smith said she and her husband will give the money to charities, among them the American Heart Association.

Emily was born May 31 at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. She was six weeks premature and was born with three heart conditions that impaired the heart's ability to pump blood.

Doctors told her parents she almost certainly would need a heart transplant to survive, but she was too small for such an operation. It was hoped that when she grew, more hearts would be available for transplant and she'd be in better shape to receive one.

She entered Children's National Medical Center on March 15 with a high fever. Her kidneys failed a week ago, and her condition worsened during the weekend.

A viewing will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at John M. Taylor Funeral Home in Annapolis. A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Mary's Church in Annapolis.

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