Honoring a friend
Senior’s struggles with heart problem considered an inspiration
At ceremony, Stone grads remember student who died last year
It was a bittersweet moment Saturday evening for Michael and Sherian Hart. It was their daughter Hydeia’s graduation day, there was her diploma, but there was one thing missing: their daughter.
Thomas Stone High School, the school she attended until her death July 1, 2015, paid tribute to Hydeia, including her photo on the overhead screen of graduates and including a short speech followed by a moment of silence, led by school board Chairwoman Virginia McGraw, who had been Hydeia’s principal at J.P. Ryon Elementary School.
“Hydeia Hart was a very special young lady. She was always, and I do mean always, a very happy child and an excellent student,” McGraw said. “She loved life and she lived it to the fullest every single day.”
Michael Hart said that Hydeia, the second of seven children and his only daughter, was very ill when she was born, and spent several days in the hospital, but seemed to recover. However, when she started walking, she continually suffered from shortness of breath.
Then, at the age of 2, Hydeia was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a condition causing constriction of the capillaries carrying blood to the right side of the heart. It took a while to get the correct diagnosis; her father said that at the time, she was the only child diagnosed with the condition in the state of Maryland.
Her treatment went well for a while; with an infusion pump and medication, Hydeia experienced a relatively trouble-free childhood for five to six years afterward, her father said.
But from around the age of 8 onward, Hydeia’s condition worsened, and she was hospitalized 16 times in the decade before her death, her father said.
“As her body started to grow, she was hospitalized more and more,” he said. “She was hospitalized anywhere from two to three weeks at a time.”
Hydeia continued to go to school as her health permitted, where she made a lasting impact on her fellow students and teachers. Alicia Young, a Thomas Stone student who would have graduated with Hydeia, said she was glad to call Hydeia her friend.
“She was a good person, no matter what she was going through. She always had a smile on her face, and you could never tell from the outside what she was going through,” Young said. “She was a really warm-hearted person and she was a joy to everybody.”
Christina McGraw, daughter of the school board chairwoman, was Hydeia’s teacher at Thomas Stone.
“She was a very, very, very sweet girl. She always had a smile on her face, no matter whether she was in pain, or not in pain. She had the pulmonary hypertension problem with her heart, but that never got her down,” McGraw said. “She was always there to give someone a hug if they had a bad day.”
“I feel like she is here with us,” she said before graduation.
Hydeia’s struggles with pulmonary hypertension made local and national news, with a flag and citation from Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) and a profile story in the Washington Post following her death.
Throughout her struggles, Hydeia continued to be upbeat and positive, and served as an inspiration to others, Virginia McGraw said.
“Hydeia remained focused, upbeat and determined every day of her life. She lived a life rich and fulfilling, and she touched many people across our state and community with her enthusiasm, kindness and charm,” she said.
Hydeia died last summer, following another bout of illness. “She was in Stage 4 of pulmonary hypertension at the time,” Hart said. “They did everything they could, it was just her time.”
Following the graduation, Hydeia’s parents were presented with her diploma, cap and gown.
Hart said his daughter always showed a strength of spirit and maintained her upbeat attitude, despite what was going on with her.
“I feel like each person is sent to this world for a reason, and hers was to spread love and joy amongst people, and she did that, with her attitude,” he said. “I miss her so much, but I’m so proud of the child that I raised.”
School board Chairwoman Virginia McGraw asks for a moment of silence in memory of Thomas Stone High School Class of 2016 member Hydeia Hart, who died July 1, 2015.
Sherian Hart cleans the grave of her daughter, Hydeia Hart, at Trinity Memorial Gardens in Waldorf.
Sherian and Michael Hart hold their daughter’s diploma, awarded during graduation ceremonies Saturday. Hydeia Hart died July 1, 2015.