February 7-14 is CHD Awareness Week.
Most people are unaware that congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the number one birth defect in the United States, yet 1 in every 110 (40,000 annually) are born with one or more CHDs. Of those, 25% will need heart surgery or medical interventions just to survive. Today, 2-4 million Americans are living with CHD with more than half of those being over the age of eighteen. Although treatment options are improving for this population, CHD remains a leading cause of death for children. CHD is not just a birth defect, but a life-long condition requiring specialized care.
This is a very personal issue for me and my family, as my son Isaiah was born with a congenital heart defect – Tricuspid regurgitation (classified as severe by his cardiologist). Isaiah doesn’t look sick. Isaiah doesn’t feel sick. Isaiah has lived a normal, happy life for the past 11 years so far.
Every year we take Isaiah to get an echocardiogram. We hear about how the tricuspid valve is not closing correctly with every beat of his heart. We learned that the heart can beat up to 100 times every minute. 100 bpm x 60 minutes in an hour is 6000 beats per hour. 6000 x 24 hours is 144,000 beats per day! Every beat that Isaiah’s heart takes – makes it work harder to pump blood through his growing body. The heart is a muscle, the harder you work a muscle, the bigger it becomes. Isaiah’s heart is enlarging…
This years visit to the cardiologist felt different. I was nervous. Diana is usually the one that’s nervous. Somehow I knew…
This time the Dr. recommends surgery. Better to do it now because of the enlargement, and any hope that his condition would improve with age / time is proving to be false hope, he tells us. Isaiah shudders as he listens to the doctor speak. Diana’s eyes meet mine, and we silently feel each others shock (we knew this day would come, but it still hit us like a ton of bricks!). We struggled to keep our composure for Zay, and still think of the questions that we need to ask the doctor.
The Dr. will send Isaiah’s records to a surgeon to review and make his own recommendation on wether or not Isaiah is a good candidate for surgery.
We got the call about a month later…
The answer was a yes… Isaiah will have surgery this summer at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, TX.
There can be no adequate description of the emotional, physical and financial toll this can take on a family. At this time we are asking for your prayers, and to help us spread awareness of this issue so that families who have children with CHD can have hope for a better future.
Awareness about CHD is vital to making a better life for children and adults living with CHD. Through early detection and diagnosis, better treatment options, and CHD research, these children and adults will have a far better chance at living longer, healthier lives.
We know we need to be strong for Zay.
Right now… For our Family… This is Everything