Valentine’s Day wishes: raising awareness of congenital heart defects

by Tripp Underwood on February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine’s Day. Appropriately enough, this heart-centric holiday falls right in the middle of National Heart Awareness Month, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than giving our readers a brief update about Parker Bolton, a Children’s Hospital Boston patient born with a congenital heart defect (CHD), called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), and the face of Thrive’s Our Patients’ Stories section. (That’s Parker, smiling broadly over there on the left-hand side of this page.)

Since first visiting Children’s, Parker has grown significantly.

Parker first came to Children’s for open-heart surgery two and half years ago. At the time his health was questionable and his mother Casey knew very little about HLHS; it’s amazing how much can change in two and a half years.

Since his first surgery performed by Sitaram Emani, MD, of Children’s Cardiovascular Program, Parker has been growing consistently and his mom Casey has gone from knowing nothing about HLHS to becoming a heart advocate in her home state of New Hampshire. In fact, thanks to a letter writing campaign headed by Casey, New Hampshire governor John Lynch proclaimed February 14, Congenital Heat Defect Awareness day in his state, two years in a row.

Image used in Casey’s awareness raising campaigns.

Getting a whole day devoted to CHD awareness would be enough for most people, but for Casey it’s just the tip of the iceberg. She’s recently staffed an information kiosk at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth to help educate parents who may want to increase their knowledge of CHDs and started a Facebook page to raise awareness about these conditions. Casey is also working closely with her employer, American Energy Independence Company (AMENICO), to help raise funds for further CHD awareness programs. (Like many of Casey’s awareness raising efforts, baby Parker will be prominently featured as the face of the AMENICO campaign as well.)

Since Parker’s initial diagnosis, doctors have known he would need multiple heart surgeries as he and his heart grew bigger. His next surgery is scheduled for a few months from now. Keep checking Thrive for continued coverage of his progress, and join us in thanking Casey for all her efforts to raise awareness for Parker and the thousands born with CHDs every year.

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