Lilburn family nurses children back to health

LILBURN - Laura Moore is a woman of many trades - mother, nurse and founder, president and executive of her own nonprofit organization based in Lilburn.

Moore started her organization, the Dream House for Medically Fragile Children Inc., in 2004 with the dream of providing a safe family environment for children with special medical needs.

Since then, with the help of her husband Michael and children Anna, 17, Hayden, 19, and Katie, 8, the organization has housed and nursed back to health 12 medically fragile children, taking care of them in a Lilburn transition home owned by Dream House.

"The primary concept is that this is not a nursing home and it's not an institution," she said. "It's a family - this is a home."

Moore said the Dream House consists of the one 8,000-square-foot transitional care home in Lilburn.

The house has six rooms where children needing medical care can stay while their family is educated in how to take care of them or until an adoptive family is available. Moore, a nurse for over 25 years, and her family care for the children, providing the specialized care they need.

"Many of these children have been living for months, even years in hospitals and senior citizen nursing homes," Moore said. "(The Dream House) is a whole different approach to taking care of these children that is in a home and a loving, family environment."

Moore and her colleagues also offer education for families who need help knowing how to care for their medically fragile child.

"These children change constantly, so families can come and develop and update their level at any time," Moore said.

A miracle family

Moore said she and her husband signed the adoption papers Dec. 20 making one very special medically fragile child a permanent part of their family.

Moore adopted 8-year-old Katie who, in the past two years, has had two five-organ transplants, including spleen, large and small intestine, stomach and pancreas.

Katie came to the Moore family as a foster child who doctors said needed five organ transplants to stay alive.

"She's the second child in medical history to survive this type of transplant," Moore said. "The doctors told me she wouldn't live and she would need a miracle. I told them I believed in miracles."

Although the first procedure failed, Katie was able to receive a second transplant that saved her life.

Today Moore said Katie requires some special medical care, but two years after the surgery, Katie is doing fine and runs around and plays like any other second grade girl.

"She is an example, that with a little love and care, miracles are possible," she said.

A new place for dreams

Having completed a three-year pilot program in the Lilburn transition care home, Moore said the organization plans to open a new center in Conyers, including an education building, day care center, respite care center and three transitional care homes.

She said building has already begun and she hopes the center will be up and running in January 2008.

"The property was donated by the Smyrna Presbyterian Church of Conyers," Moore said. "We receive no government or state funding for our projects."

She said Dream House is also looking for land or homes to be donated in Albany, Savannah and throughout northwest Georgia to create more transition care homes where they are needed most.

"We seem to have a lot of medically fragile children in that area that need placement," she said.

She said Dream House is always looking for foster and adoptive parents and is currently looking for staff and house parents for the new location.

"Anyone can do this," she said. "You just have to have the heart and the will to learn."

For more information or to make a donation to the Dream House visit www.dreamhouseforkids.org or call 770-717-7410.