Tiny but Mighty – 2019 Miracle Child Elliott Naftzger Roars into Life


Elliot Naftzger takes in the view while staying at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital in Spokane.

Elliott Naftzger’s eyes – giant, blue, and full of wonder – are as boundless as the sky. And when she dances to Michael Jackson, those big eyes light up.

“‘Billy Jean’ is her favorite,” said her mother, Rachel. “She loves to sing, dance, and entertain.”

Rachel described her daughter as “tiny but mighty.” At 5 years old, she’s a creative sparkplug that loves to paint and draw. She’s happy, and frequently very funny, her mother said.

But Elliott’s life isn’t always so carefree. Before Elliott was born, her mother discovered at 20 weeks’ pregnant that her baby had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The prognosis was troubling – the left side of Elliott’s heart was much smaller than it should be and not functioning. Doctors had seen it before and recommended she have immediate surgery after she was born.

At just four days old, Elliott underwent a successful heart surgery procedure at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, and was released from the hospital a week later. She was thriving, her mother recalled. She had a second surgery at five months old, and another at age 4. Elliott had each surgery at Sacred Heart, a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.

Elliot with Mom and Brother.

Elliot Naftzger with her mother and brother.

The hospital took great care of not only Elliott, but also her older brother, Edmond, now 7, who spent a lot of time with his sister.

“They had toys for him, and they’d get me coffee in the morning,” Rachel said. “It made all the difference in the world. At Sacred Heart, they did an incredible job of motivating her to get up and walk. They always included my son in everything that they did, also,” Rachel recalled.

Elliott needs regular heart monitoring with echocardiograms – or echos, which allow doctors see how blood is moving through the heart.

The Naftzgers live in Walla, Walla, Washington, and they used to travel to Spokane each time Elliott needed an echo. It’s a long drive – about three hours each way. But recently, through a grant to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, the Providence Center for Congenital Heart Disease acquired a portable echo machine to serve patients across central and eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and northeast Oregon. Now, Rachel, her husband, Carter, Elliott, and Edmond travel to the Tri-Cities for Elliott’s echos, which is more manageable, Rachel said.

Elliott will sparkle once again this fall in Spokane, when she gets on stage as the 2019 Miracle Child during the Credit Unions for Kids Auction at MAXX 2019 on Oct. 16.

Elliott Miracle Child

Elliott Naftzger, happy and smiling.

“Hosting a Miracle Child and their family is an important part of our Credit Union for Kids Auction tradition,” said Holly Miller, Programming Director at the Northwest Credit Union Association. “When our guests share their stories, it provides a personal connection to some of the impacts that our Children’s Miracle Network families experience. We are thrilled to have the Naftzger family join us in Spokane this year and cannot wait to share more of Elliott’s story and talents.”

Editor’s note: Credit Unions for Kids is the Credit Union Movement’s “charity of choice” and was founded here in the Northwest. Donations are being accepted, and registration is now open, for the “Masquerade Ball” Auction. More information is available online.

Posted in CU4Kids, MAXX Annual Convention.