Lights of Love: Children in hospitals comforted by community for Valentine’s Day

Lights of Love: Children in hospitals comforted by community for Valentine’s Day
A CHOA patient looks down onto a crowd shining flashlights toward her for Valentine's Day (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta)

ATLANTA — People gathered to shine love to children spending Valentine’s Day in the hospital.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Lights of Love is a way to remind patients that they are not alone.

Families, public safety officials and members of the community came together at three hospitals to flash flashlights toward the hospital buildings. Inside, young patients shined flashlights back at them.

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“This is all for you. These are your valentines, baby,” Children’s posted on Twitter with a photo of a patient and a family member hugging him.

One family in particular had an exceptionally special experience at the event this year.

Ivanna Archaga was a patient at CHOA two years ago, and was in desperate need of a liver transplant. Her mother talked about how the event lifted their spirits during the toughest times.

“That week, Ivanna was very sick. It was a very rough week with us. She was not playing like she used to. She was sleeping a lot,” Andrea Archaga said.

Later that same night, they got the news of a lifetime.

“After we flashed our lights, we came back to our room, and our room had a sign that said ‘NPO,’” Archaga said.

She said that sign meant Ivanna she couldn’t eat so that meant something would be going on, like a procedure.

The doctor came to their hospital room and told them that there was a chance there was a donor for Ivanna.

“Next day, we knew Ivanna was going to receive her gift of life,” Archaga said.

It made it even more special after the night when so many people shined their lights to support them.

“Just to see the community coming together, flashing their lights and saying, like: ‘We care for you. We don’t know your struggle. We don’t know how hard it is for you, but we’re here for you.’ They’re just shining a little hope,” Archaga said.

Archaga said that during their first Lights of Love two years ago, she told God she wanted to be on the other side the next time. Thursday was that night for her.

She said there are hardly words to describe how it felt to be able to return that love to patients still in the hospital.