It was just before Lauren's 8th birthday when we noticed something didn't seem right. She was extremely tired and just didn't want to do anything. A couple of weeks later, I noticed her abdomen was a bit distended. The pediatrician said she could be just constipated but sent us for an X-ray to be safe. A short time later we learned Lauren had fluid in her rib cage and around her heart, and that her heart was enlarged. Lauren was in the midst of heart failure.
The journey that followed was long and frightening. We eventually learned that a virus had attacked Lauren’s heart and that she needed a new heart. Finally, nearly a year after we first noticed her fatigue, Lauren had a lifesaving heart transplant. While her surgery went well, her body still suffers from the after-effects. Her life has changed forever, but we are so thankful that she is here.
Our family is living proof that life can change dramatically overnight. Lauren went from a normal childhood to the Pediatric Cardiac ICU at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. That’s when my eyes were truly opened to the importance of heart problems in children. We were in the hospital with children of all ages and backgrounds. Some were born with conditions. Some were as surprised to be there as we were. But we all shared a bond built from hope and fear.
It is amazing what medicine can do. Lauren's surgery could not have happened before 1984. Each year, medical techniques improve, more research is undertaken and more children's lives are saved thanks to scientific advancements. The American Heart Association is paramount to this effort.