Kansas City,
10:43 AM

Children's cardiac conditions alter daily life for them, parents

Michael Harrelson

The 2-year-old rides like the wind on his angelfish rocker, even attempting the “Look, Mom, no hands” trick under the watchful eye of his mother.

The fact that Audrey Thompson’s son Michael Harrelson is so active is a blessing for her. Born with two heart defects, Michael had his first open heart surgery when he was just 36 days old.

Today when Thompson gently lifts her son’s shirt, the scar down the center of his chest is fading. Still, despite his outward healthy appearance, the hard times aren’t over. Currently they are waiting for further surgery to remove abnormal tissue below his aortic valve.

“Despite everything, he’s doing great,” said Thompson, who was wearing a hoodie that declared her the “Proud Mommy of a heart warrior.”

“He is thriving, growing and doing everything a normal 2-year-old does,” Thompson said. “There are no restrictions.”

Congenital heart disease (CHD) affects nearly 1 percent of – or about 40,000 – births per year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

When Thompson heard the news, she was scared and clueless about everything that was happening to her brand new infant, who began struggling to breathe when he was 13 days old. Doctors thought his heart was enlarged and admitted him to Kansas City’s Children’s Mercy Hospital on Dec. 23, 2013 for further tests. That’s where he spent his first Christmas and the first days of his life until Feb. 2, 2014.

Congenital means present at birth. Hearing of a heart defect opened up a frightening world at a time of such joy for Thompson and Michael’s father, Michael Harrelson.

Read the full story via The Hutchinson News.

Learn more about Children's Mercy's Ward Family Heart Center.

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