Brandon Calvert’s Story:Everyday Brandon wonders if his Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) will shock him to maintain a stable heartbeat.
He has known about his condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the muscle of the heart has been thickened, ever since he was two years old. As he reached young adulthood Brandon began to find out what kinds of problems occurred with his condition. Brandon’s heart would beat too fast out of nowhere, creating uncontrollable arrhythmia. Soon after this started happening, Brandon received an ICD implant that, if his heart started to beat uncontrollably, would shock him back to a normal rhythm. Only a week after the implant was put in place, it saved his life in the middle of the night.
“I know how hard fighting heart disease can be because it is an everyday struggle, and that is why I see no better reason to spread awareness and share my story,” says Brandon, who is currently enjoying his freshman year of college in Southern California.
Caleb Peltier's Story:At three days old, Caleb was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that he had critical congenital heart disease (CCHD). His organs were shutting down...he was dying.
Doctors were able to stabilize him for heart surgery at two weeks old and save his life.
Caleb was alive and on the road to recovery. He was out of the hospital in about 9 days. It has been a long road, including another open heart surgery and a lot of doctor appointments. Today, Caleb is a healthy, playful 3-year old. Doctors hope that he will never need another surgical correction and will be able to live a long, healthy, normal life. Caleb’s family is grateful for the work of the American Heart Association and the outstanding donors that have made their work possible. If it weren’t for this research and medical breakthroughs funded by the association, Caleb would not be alive.
While much research has been funded, more needs to be done to ensure that our loved ones are safeguarded from this deadly and debilitating killer. Caleb and his family invite you to think about those that you love so dearly in your life and what you would do for more time with them. His family encourages you to fund life-saving research by supporting the American Heart Association.
Colter Cross' Story:Colter Cross was born on November 17, 2011. He was taken home 24 hours after he was born, he had passed all of the health screenings and was a healthy baby boy. Unfortunately, the hospital had neglected to complete Pulse Oximetry Screening.
Three days later at his first checkup the doctor heard a very loud murmur and chose to check his oxygen levels, which were bad. A normal baby should be above 95% and Colter was at 75%. He immediately made arrangements for us to see a cardiologist. Five hours later Colter's parents received the most terrifying news they have ever heard in their lives. Colter was diagnosed with a severe and rare critical congenital heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus. Without surgery to repair his defect he would die.
At eleven days old Colter underwent open heart surgery at Seattle Children's Hospital that was supposed to take 6-8 hours but, because Colter had suffered a cardiac arrest, it wasn't until fourteen hours later that Colter was stabilized. However he was still surviving minute to minute. During the next two weeks, Colter was barely surviving facing infections and last ditch efforts by the doctors.
Luckily, by the grace of medical research, Colter began to improve and was discharged from the Children's Intensive Care Unit. He remained in the hospital for another month on antibiotic treatment. When Colter was finally able to go home, he had a feeding tube, full-time oxygen and a long road to recovery. His cardiologist said if he didn't improve a heart transplant would be needed.
Happily, Colter is thriving today! He is as crazy as any other two-year old and just recently became medication free. Colter will need at least 3 more open heart surgeries, numerous catheters and constant monitoring throughout his life. His family doesn't worry about the future and enjoys today and the moments we have right now knowing that through research and medicine, Colter can and will have a healthy quality of life. Please help spread the word that nearly 1 out of every 100 births a baby is born with some form of heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 killer of our babies, not to mention that babies are twice more likely to die of a heart disease than all forms of childhood cancer. Heart disease doesn't discriminate; ask for your baby’s oxygen levels to be checked before you leave the hospital. Know the signs--if your baby has a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails or lips, fast breathing, poor feeding, poor weight gain, fatigue, poor circulation and excessive sweating--those are all signs of a possible heart defect.
Michael Elhers Story:At just a few hours-old, Michael stopped breathing. As the doctors worked to figure out why, they discovered that Michael was born with a heart defect.
Just 37 hours into Michael's young life and he was already having his first open heart surgery. His mom, dad and big sister Grace stayed by his side in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) letting him know how much he was loved and that he could fight to survive.
Michael made it through his first open heart surgery as well as several more surgeries and hospital visits during the first few years of his life. He still visits the doctor for regular EKGs and echocardiograms, but that doesn't slow him down! Michael, or "Miracle Mike", likes to run around, play super heros, take karate classes and everything else that four year-old boys like to do. The Ehlers are thankful for the research done by the American Heart Association that helps heal special hearts like Mike's.