Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Why this is So Important

We all know that life is fragile, and that there are no guarantees about how long we, or our loved ones, get to be here. But the families of and survivors of CHD, are exponentially more aware of this, and of every seemingly “tiny” health matter.

Every germ is the enemy, every virus has the potential to wreck havoc on CHD patients’ broken hearts. We stock up on large bottles of Purel, are on constant alert at playdates for signs of sniffy noses and stay away from indoor public play areas. Because when our kids get sick, the child's heart does as well, and their hearts are often already struggling.

Today, I received news from Josie (who wrote yesterday's entry) that her daughter was admitted to the hospital last night with RSV. She's improving since her initial, scary admission, but there's still concern over the impact the virus could have upon her heart. It’s a scary situation and one that can only be helped by skilled medical practitioners, positive energy and prayers.

Unfortunately, Josie and her family are not the only ones struggling. Today I talked to my friend Karen, whose daughter has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), meaning her daughter’s heart is missing most of the left ventricle. She told me that she dreads the question that most people ask her – “Is there a fix for your daughter’s heart?” Here’s what Karen says...

Unfortunately my daughter's heart will never be "fixed." She has half a heart. She has been "rewired" to live on one ventricle. We will live in constant fear that her heart will peeter out. We will live in constant fear that she will get an infection that her heart cannot handle. We realize that it is a good probability that she will need additional surgeries and /or a heart transplant in her future. So, no, she is not fixed. There is not a fix for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

One can only imagine her heart break every time she has to answer this question for the well-meaning stranger who asks it. Or how much she hates that it.

What is the point of sharing these two stories with you? The point is, that because the public is not aware of CHD, it is also not aware of the pain our families face. Of the fears. Of the overwhelming desire for “normalcy” (whatever that may be) and the inability to gain it for our children. Of the yearning we have for a "fix" that has not yet been discovered.

Because the public does not know much about CHD, there is not enough of a demand to allocate the funds into the research. Through knowledge, we can find ways to raise interest, to raise awareness, to raise funds for research that will find earlier diagnoses, fixes and cures, medications and therapies. I… WE (the parents of children with CHD)… hope you will join us as we work to spread awareness to our peers, our legislators, our corporations, our friends.

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