Healing hearts the greatest gift

INSTEAD of showering your loved one with roses this Valentine’s Day, how about considering healing the hearts of youngsters with a donation?

Watching them play, you wouldn’t know that Brodie Jacobs and Emily Crocker have had five open-heart surgeries between them in their young lives.

Three-year-old Brodie has had four, after being born with pulmonary atresia with VSD, ASD, a double-outlet right ventricle, his heart is twisted and he also has velocardial facial syndrome.

His mum, Tamara Davey, said he will need heart surgeries all his life as the prosthetic pieces in his heart need replacing.

He had his first open-heart surgery at just three months old.

Nineteen-month-old Emily Crocker had open-heart surgery before she was a year old and a BT shunt put in when she was two weeks old. Emily was born with tetralogy of fallot, which was diagnosed through an ultrasound when mum Amy was 31 weeks’ pregnant.

A year ago Emily had open-heart surgery to put a patch over the hole in her heart and had her left pulmonary valve taken out.

She may have a stent put in later this year and her valve put back in when she needs it.

Fellow heart kid, Oxley Vale Public School Year 5 student Lily Pinchen, who turns 10 next week, was diagnosed with a heart murmur and doctors found a large hole in her heart when she was two-and-a-half years old.

Lily had her open-heart surgery when she was four to repair the hole in her heart and remove the tissue.

She now has annual check-ups.

All three children’s mothers said they’d had support from HeartKids while they were in Westmead Children’s Hospital, and would love to meet other Tamworth parents with heart kids.

They’ve also encouraged those who might celebrate Valentine’s Day to support HeartKids rather than buying flower. 

February 14 is also International Childhood Heart Disease Day.

Mrs Crocker said she’d love people to contact her on amymccrocker@gmail.com if they wanted to meet up, as they all liked getting support from other parents going through similar things.

“We know there have got to be more parents out there,” she said.

If you want to be a sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, HeartKids Australia CEO Jann Kingston said Australians spent more than $900 million on confectionery, dinners, flowers and trips, but would love everyone to spare a thought and a few dollars for the six babies born with a heart defect every day.

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