Did you know that February is American Heart Month? I didn’t, but when I found out, my own family’s experience with congenital heart defects (a form of heart disease) came flooding back to me.
One of my sons was born with a congenital heart defect, a very large VSD, or ventricular septal defect; a hole between the two bottom chambers of his heart. Though the VSD is the most common type of congenital heart defect, and often heals on its own, his was exceptionally large, and his VSD didn’t heal.
By the time he was 2 months old, his breathing was labored, and he stopped growing. At three months old, he had his first open heart surgery. He bounced right back, growing and thriving in the following year. But still, he developed a “thrill” or, a heart murmur so significant, it was visible as a small shudder on his tiny chest. Within a year, it was clear he would need another open-heart surgery to repair the structure of his heart, so he was back in the operating room at 16 months.
He’s now 16 years old, grown tall, healthy, and too old to want his current photo on his mother’s blog. Its easy now to forget that he had a rocky start in life, though he carries a long scar down the center of his chest, and two Dacron patches have become part of the structure of his heart.
Reflecting on that time of hospitals, medications, and anxiety, I’m flooded by so many emotions, but mostly gratitude. I’m grateful for the care he received, that we were able to afford it, and to live in a time and place where saving babies born with congenital heart defects is not only possible, but routine.
In gratitude for all these gifts and hopes of helping others experience such positive outcomes, I want to use paper hearts to help people’s heart. For the entire month of February, Bottle Branch will donate 20% retail sales to support Congenital Heart Defect Research though the American Heart Association and the Children’s Heart Network. There are still harder cases, new techniques to be developed, babies, children and adults in need of life-saving surgeries.
As a thank you to those supporting this donation with your purchases, I’ll be giving a free (free!) set of heart gift tags (pictured at the top) to the first 10 orders over $20, starting today.