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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week

In June of 1999 when my 3rd baby Zachary was born, I was introduced to the world of congenital heart defects (a heart defect that a baby is born with). I had never heard that term before despite the fact that it is the most common birth defect and #1 cause of birth defect related deaths. Hearing the words, "Your baby was born with 2 heart defects ... both requiring surgery" was devastating. It is hurtful enough seeing your child in any type of pain ... scrapped knees, ear aches, broken bones ... but HEART SURGERY on a baby ... wires, needles, cords, monitors, medicines ... it was all so much.
(Zachary at 3 weeks old)

Zachary did recover from his first surgery wonderfully. We brought him home and really got to know the precious gift that God has loaned us. His smile light up a room ...

At 5 months and 28 days old, Zachary was schedule for his 2nd heart surgery. We were so fortunate with this one. Zachary was strong going into surgery, the doctors felt it was a great time to do it cuz Zachary was doing so well. His surgery was schedule for 7:30am on November 30th, 1999. Once again Zachary was hooked up to machines, wires, monitors ... he had an IV in both arms and legs. I just remember feeling so helpless. I wanted to badly to lay on that bed for him, I wanted to grab him and run to a place where congenital heart defects didn't exist, I wanted so desperately to take all the pain away from him, I just wanted him to be all better.

Surgery started off well but things went from bad to worse. Finally, after 9 and a half hours of ups and downs, tears and cries ... the surgeon, along with his nurse came to our room with the news, "The baby died." Even after 9 years, I can still hear those words as if it were yesterday. I could never descibe the pain I felt and feel everyday ... he was a part of me, a part of me died that day.

After his loss and serious bouts with a horrible sinking feeling of depression, I realized I had two choices ... I could sit back, hide in a corner, pretend it didn't happen and cry about it OR I could do something about it. Obviously there was nothing I could do to help my baby, there was nothing that could bring him back BUT there was something I could do to help educate others, raise money for research and increase awareness. For the past 9 years that's what I have been doing through the formation of the Zachary Brooks CHD Endowment and Kids With Heart National Association for Children's Heart Disorders.

The week of February 7th through the 14th is congenital heart defect awareness week so in honor of that and the 40,000 babies born each year with a CHD and in remembrance of Zachary and the nearly 4,000 babies lost each year ... I just wanted to share this little poem I wrote a while back.

Your help is needed
and that's not all,
we need awareness,
for the little and small.

We need your help,
to spread the word ...
of congenital heart defects,
for little have heard!

This is a deadly defect,
affecting many that are born,
turning lives upside down ..
leaving dreams shattered and torn.

Congenital heart defects,
known as CHD's,
are the #1 birth defect,
but a hidden disease.

Doses of medicine,
many times each day,
a little child,
that can't run or play,
his little heart,
can't take the stress,
his little body
just needs to rest.
A little baby
that struggles to eat,
with tiny blue lips,
and hands, and feet.
A mother stands by
her baby's grave,
praying through research,
others will be saved!

Written by Angela Brooks
June 2002

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