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Meet Harper, our 2024 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Indiana Champion

Harper Gray — with parents

Each year, 170 Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals across North America identify a “Champion” in their community to serve as the face for children treated at their local hospital. Riley Children’s Health is the only CMN hospital in Indiana.

Harper Gray’s first little steps — five in all — were a monumental occasion. Just a year earlier, Harper’s legs were conjoined from the pelvis to the ankles, a characteristic of infants born with sirenomelia or “mermaid syndrome.”

Her parents, Brittany and Austin, found out about Harper’s condition during a routine ultrasound in the fifth month of pregnancy. The Grays were referred to a team of specialists at Riley Children’s Health. Born on May 8, 2021, Harper spent the first 33 days of her life in the neonatal intensive care unit. Multiple complications pushed back the surgery to separate her legs until April 2022. The procedure, which took seven hours and required about 1,000 stitches, is one of the few such surgeries ever performed in the world. Harper took her first steps just ten months later.

Funds from CMN Hospitals partners help Riley recruit and retain world-class physicians so that Hoosier kids like Harper can receive the highly specialized care they need while staying close to home.

We checked in with the Gray family to find out what representing Riley means to them.

What does it mean to your family to be a 2024 CMN Hospitals Champion?

It’s an amazing honor to us that Harper was selected to be Riley’s 2024 CMN Hospitals Champion.

Why is it important for your family to give back to Riley?

Riley saved Harper’s life and we want to give back so they can continue saving more children. We are so beyond grateful for everyone at Riley Hospital.

What do you think a perfect day for Harper would look like? What are some of her favorite things?

A perfect day for Harper would include going for a walk to a local playground and swinging on a swing set for hours in the sun. She loves animals, especially cats and dogs. Harper also enjoys art and music. She is happiest when she is spending time with her family and friends.

What is your hope for Harper’s future?

We hope for her to grow up and live a happy and normal life. We hope she can be inspirational and spread joy to everyone she meets.

If you met someone who was considering a donation to Riley, what would you say to encourage them?

Please consider making the donation! Riley saved Harper’s life and countless other children’s lives. Without Riley, I’m not sure where we would be today.