Gabi Deiter ’23: A Brother’s Journey Inpsires a Future in Nursing

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Gabi Deiter ’23 is eagerly looking forward to embarking on her college career and pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse.

As testament to her hard work and academic prowess, Gabi graduated with high honors. Gabi was also recognized as a member of the National Honor Society and participated in Project Lead the Way biomedical program throughout her four years of high school.

Gabi’s passion for nursing was inspired by her little brother Michael’s journey with severe congenital heart defects. Michael was born with multiple heart defects and was in and out of the hospital throughout his life until he received a life-saving heart transplant in 2015. Gabi’s experience with her brother’s health journey deeply influenced her career aspirations and fueled her determination to become a nurse who can make a difference in the lives of others.

Gabi’s hard work and dedication have paid off, as she was awarded the prestigious Saint Mary Academic Scholarship to Marian University. The scholarship, which covers full tuition for all four years of Gabi’s college education, is Marian’s most prestigious award. Out of 874 eligible admitted students with a GPA of 3.9 or higher, Gabi was one of 15 students selected to receive the scholarship. Her winning essay for the scholarship detailed her personal experiences with her brother’s health journey.

As Gabi prepares to start college, she is driven by her desire to help others and make a positive impact in their lives. Gabi’s journey is a reminder that with dedication and perseverance, anything is possible. We wish her the best as she embarks on this exciting new chapter in her life.

You can read Gabi’s essay she submitted to Marian University below.

There is one topic I consider extremely captivating, and that is my little brother and his journey with severe congenital heart defects. My brother Michael was born with multiple congenital heart defects, the most complicated being one working ventricle instead of two. He was in and out of the hospital throughout his life until 2015 when he received a life-saving heart transplant. Michael’s story is so captivating because it is a personal experience that defined my family and our values, our belief in God and faith in modern medicine. His story also inspired me to pursue a career in nursing.

Pictured is Gabi with her brothers and nephew; Michael, Aaron with his son Caden, and Austin.

Michael was born on September 13, 2006. Days after birth, my mother noticed Michael’s breathing was labored and his lips were a dark shade of purple. He was then taken to the hospital where it was revealed that Michael was born with multiple complicated heart defects. His condition was so severe, no one expected him to survive. His first invasive surgery was performed only five days after birth. At age two, Michael would receive his first pacemaker (three more would follow). Living with a defected heart took its toll on Michael. His body did not receive the oxygen it needed, and he struggled to grow. He was short and pale, his lips were purple, and he had clubbed fingers and toes. Michael experienced severe migraines and frequent arrythmias requiring cardioversion.

Then, in 2015, Michael was admitted to Riley Children’s Hospital for a heart transplant. He was the highest priority on the waiting list. One hundred days would pass before a suitable heart became available. Michael’s transplant went smoothly and improved his condition drastically. Because of his new heart, Michael’s body was finally able to get the oxygen it needed.  He started to grow, and his skin gained more color. He no longer experienced severe migraines and arrythmias. He is now a completely different person.  This challenging journey defined my family’s values, beliefs and shaped who I am as a person. I spent so much time in the hospital with him watching, learning, and praying he would get better. 

My parents’ energy went towards taking care of Michael, improving his quality of life and trying to make the most of the situation for me and my two older brothers.  Both of my parents  would spend a lot of time in prayer, especially during the early years when Michael’s condition was most severe, and he was not expected to live.  Michael was baptized in the hospital when he was days old and whenever he had to go to the hospital, my dad would tell me to pray, and that God would take care of Michael. These experiences deepened our faith in God, medical staff, and medicine. Michael continues to take a plethora of medications and his story is not only inspiring but captivating and it’s truly one thing I could talk about for hours on end. I’m thankful every day he is my brother and that he’s here with us today.


Gabi is the daugther of Mike Deiter and Jennifer Gray. Gabi is also an Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School alumna.

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