Couple raises support through concert

Published 10:27 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2019

A musical event at First Baptist Church this Friday will benefit a local couple facing a rare congenital heart defect in their unborn daughter.

Miguel and Leslee Yustiz are hosting the free concert and will perform in the concert along with friends. Their soon-to-be-born daughter, Gabriela, has been diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. They also have a 1-year-old son, Josiah.

Leslee Yustiz said the family learned something was wrong at the 20-week ultrasound just before Labor Day. They have since transferred their care to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Leslee will give birth and where Gabriela will undergo her first surgery at just two or three days old. Subsequent surgeries will take place at 3 to 6 months of age and then 3 to 5 years of age.

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“They pretty much make the right side of the heart do everything the left side of the heart is supposed to do,” Leslee said.

In the meantime, Gabriela will be on multiple heart medications and will likely need to eat through a feeding tube and be constantly monitored.

The family will relocate to Philadelphia temporarily in mid-December to prepare for the birth. They will stay there as long as it takes Gabriela to recover from the first surgery, which will be at least a month or could be as long as through the second surgery.

“It just depends on how well she does,” Leslee said.

The family is seeking help with medical bills as well as all of the things that come along with out-of-state treatment — lodging, gasoline, food and more, plus lost wages.

“It’s going to be very costly financially,” Leslee said. “All those things add up on top of all the medical bills.”

She said the family came up with the idea to do a concert to raise awareness about the condition their daughter has and bring in support.

“My husband and I are both musical and have musical training,” Leslee said. They both attended Appalachian Bible College, where he majored in music specializing in piano, and she minored in music specializing in vocal performance.

They use those gifts at First Baptist, where he oversees the music and she helps.

“We thought that would be a very appropriate way to honor our little girl and let people know more about HLHS and let them know how they can better pray for us and Gabriela,” Leslee said.

The couple also hopes this will be a testimony to others who may be going through hard times.

“We really wanted to do this night just in honor of our girl and let people know even in dark situations and scary times, there’s hope in Christ,” she said. “We want to share that with people and let God get the glory.”

The concert from 6:30 to 8 p.m. this Friday will be free admission, and donations will be accepted. The church is located at 237 N. Main St.

You can learn more about the Yustizes, support them and learn more about hypoplastic left heart syndrome at and