White Oak girl battling aneurysm
When Gabby Hrinda awoke on Sept. 1, she couldn't get out of bed.
The 8-year-old White Oak girl woke up with a throbbing headache and nausea, and her condition worsened within minutes as she lost control of her right side and began to have trouble with speech.
“It took us a minute to realize what was going on,” Tanya Hrinda recalled. “I thought she was going to be sick.”
Tanya said she and husband Ed Hrinda didn't know what to think when their 6-year-old daughter, Kate, who shares a bedroom with Gabby, asked them for help at 7:30 a.m. They approached Gabby, who was lying on the floor.
“Ed asked her some questions, and she couldn't talk,” Tanya said. “She couldn't get her full name out.”
The family called 911 and tended to Gabby as they waited for emergency medical personnel.
“White Oak EMS was there in the amount of time it took me to get her a pair of shorts and put a shirt on myself,” Ed said.
Gabby was transported to Forbes Regional Hospital and flown from there to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC after a CT scan revealed she was bleeding around her brain.
Those events took place within one hour, and the rest of the day was a waiting game for the Hrinda family. After immediate testing, Gabby was in the operating room by 10 a.m. Her parents did not know of a prognosis until late afternoon.
One surgeon met the Hrindas in a waiting room to explain that Gabby had a cerebral aneurysm that ruptured. The bleed was stopped, but Gabby had used more than three times her body's blood volume through transfusions during surgery.
“We didn't know what to expect,” Tanya said. “They didn't know if she would be able to speak to us or if she would understand what we were saying to her.”
Doctors spoke to the Hrindas about Gabby's prognosis in terms of hours and then days. Now, they are hearing about Gabby's road to recovery over the course of months.
“She's made excellent progress,” Ed said. “It was a miracle that she made it, and it's been a further miracle every day.”
Moved from an intensive care unit to a private room in Children's Hospital, Gabby communicates with her parents through gestures and simple words. On Tuesday, she said, “Hi,” and “Bye.”
“She's able to understand,” Ed said. “She can communicate by nodding yes or no and by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down.”
While one reconstructive surgery will be required at Children's Hospital to replace a plate of bone that was removed from Gabby's head, she already is scheduled to move to the Children's Institute in Squirrel Hill next week.
“The doctors have suggested that we move ahead with Gabby's rehabilitation because she is doing so well,” Ed said. “She will come back for the surgery, but we don't want to hold her back from making more progress.”
The Hrindas said friends and family — along with the kindness of strangers — have helped them stay strong during a challenging and overwhelming time.
“The support from everywhere has been amazing,” Tanya said. “It's the White Oak community, McKeesport Area School District, organizations and businesses.”
From fellow students at Mon Yough Catholic School, Gabby has received get-well cards, balloons and stuffed animals to lift her spirits. From Jamie's Dream Team and local businesses, the family has received gift cards for fuel and meals.
White Oak Athletic Association teams are wearing ribbons to raise awareness for Gabby's condition. She played softball with that organization, and she swims with a borough team.
The Hrinda family attends St. Angela Merici parish, where Gabby performs in the choir and chime choir. Gabby also volunteers with the local food pantry at Sampson's Mills Presbyterian Church of White Oak.
As a thank you to the medical community that has aided in Gabby's recovery, Central Blood Bank will conduct two local blood drives in her name.
The first is scheduled for Thursday from 1-7 p.m. at White Oak Athletic Association, 1606 Lower Heckman Road. The association also will have a basket auction and other activities to benefit the Hrinda family.
The second blood drive is planned for Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Angela Merici parish gymnasium, 1640 Fawcett Ave., White Oak.
Walk-ins are welcome at both events, but appointments may be made by calling 412-977-4422 or through online registration at www.centralbloodbank.org.
For those who cannot attend the White Oak events, donations may be made in Gabby's name at any Central Blood Bank location using the sponsor code ZRTN0964.
Gabby's recovery is awaited by her parents and siblings Andrew, 10, Kate, 6, Luke, 4, and John, 7 months. She is the granddaughter of Andy and Elaine Hrinda and Valerie Pompe.
Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Brass plaque stolen from McKeesport veterans memorial
- Jamie’s Dream Team founder says she will press on despite new illness
- McKeesport man sentenced to house arrest in armed robbery
- McKeesport nonprofit, Youth Works ensure Allied Health students can continue training
- Clairton students reference positive ‘Frozen’-themed lessons
- StatMedevac wins safety award
- West Mifflin soccer fields nearly done, but play will be delayed
- North Versailles Township approves $6.79 million budget that keeps tax rates flat
- McKeesport man arrested in pair of armed robberies
- Businessman responds to Brewster shale tax proposal
- Elizabeth Forward marks 35th year of senior holiday breakfast