Lejeune Marine Granted Leave Returns To War After Daughter's Surgery
Posted April 16, 2003 5:11 a.m. EDT
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — A Camp Lejeune Marine is back in the Middle East after facing a life or death battle on the home front. When his infant daughter needed heart surgery, the Marine was allowed to leave the battlefield for a few days.
At 7 months old, Gabrielle Maxey has already been through two surgeries.
"It's very stressful having a baby go through open heart surgery at 6 months old. It's just amazing. It's amazing to me that she's here now," said Michelyn Maxey, Gabrielle's mother.
What is also amazing is what Gabrielle's father did to attend the surgery. Maj. Demetrius Maxey was fighting the war in Iraq when his wife called for help.
"I called his commander. On March 23, he was able to come home. He was on the last flight out before they closed the Kuwait Airport," Michelyn Maxey said.
Gabrielle was born without a right ventricle in her heart. Her mother said the surgery appears to have worked.
"It meant the world, really. It was just very stressful, so there's always a risk there. It meant the world to have him here," Michelyn Maxey said.
Maj. Maxey left Camp Lejeune for the Middle East a second time Tuesday.
When she is older, Gabrielle will hear about her family's sacrifice.
"We'll tell her how special she is, how much we love her and about her ordeal," Michelyn Maxey said.
Gabrielle will learn that her father travelled halfway around the world to see her through surgery, then went back to the fight to protect her future.
Her mother said Gabrielle will need to have one more surgery in a few years. The family credits said the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville with helping them through the ordeal.