Big Party, Little Hearts

heart partyFamilies who have received life-saving congenital heart surgery at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital have a special heart-felt bond and share a common experience, which made the hospital’s 13th Annual Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Day Party held on February 10 all the more special. Hosted at the Lucie Stern Community Center – which was decked out with pink and red hearts in honor of the occasion – the party was a salute to Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, a global effort from February 7 to 14 to help educate the public about congenital heart defects. And as the week ends on Valentine’s Day, the lovestruck holiday takes on a whole new meaning for patients at Packard Children’s Heart Center, annually ranked as one of the nation’s top 10.

Seven-year-old Elizabeth Lewis was among the dozens of children and families enjoying face-painting, food, games, and arts and crafts. And while she can enjoy ballet dancing in her tutu and playing T-ball now, the first few years of her short life were characterized by three back-to-back heart surgeries led by world-renowned cardiothoracic surgeon Frank Hanley, MD. Hanley repaired multiple heart defects that included a transposed aorta and pulmonary artery, missing coronary arteries and extra muscle growth in her right ventricle. At the party, mom Kathy Lewis called Hanley’s surgical expertise “rounds of magic.”

“We would never move because Packard Children’s is the place we need to be,” said Lewis about the need to always remain close to the Children’s Heart Center.

Approximately 500 children have surgery to correct congenital heart defects at Packard Children’s each year, receiving innovative treatment and care that allows them to live fun and healthy lives unhindered by the leading cause of birth defect-related deaths worldwide.

“These families can often feel like they’re all alone,” said Deb Hanisch, a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Heart Center and main organizer of the event. “It’s beneficial for them to be able to meet each other and share their experiences.”

For these children and families, every day is a day worth celebrating.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)