WAVY-TV has been in the business of telling stories for as long as most people can remember. But there are some stories that just seem to jump out at you. Like the two stories we told today of two babies who doctors didn’t think would live past their first birthdays. And proved everybody wrong. Both Jallage and Joe Joe were born heart defects.
Jallage was born with the most severe form of tetralogy, a rare and complex heart defect. It kept blood from her brain and other vital organs.
Her buddy Joe-Joe was born with a different kind of heart defect. He only had one chamber of his heart and couldn’t breath properly.
Their defects may have been different, but they were no less life threatening and devastating to the parents and everyone who loves them.
When the camera came back to me, if you looked closely, you couldn’t miss my tears. While many stories I report, affect me, perhaps none so strongly as these. You see, I too gave birth to a daughter with a heart defect. 20 years ago, my daughter was born with “transposition”. The pulmonary artery and the aorta were switched. She also had four holes in her heart, called ventricular septal defects. I know the trauma of being told the child you carried for 9 months, may not make it through her first week of life, much less her first birthday. She was put on life supports until her tiny body was strong enough to sustain the trauma of surgery. My daughter underwent open-heart surgery at 5 days old….doing an arterial switch and closing at lest 3 of the holes. At that time, it was a groundbreaking surgery. The oldest child who had that surgery was only 5 years old, so doctors couldn’t be sure how long anyone would live after it.
That was 20 years ago. Today,my precious daughter is a junior in college. And even today, not a day goes by that I don’t check on her just to make sure she is still breathing:)
So when I heard Jallage’s mom say she was setting a chair outside her bedroom door just to watch her sleep at night, I completely understood. I think as a parent, we watch our children grow up and pray they will be successful and one day make us proud. Before a child is even born, most parents just hope for a healthy baby, with 10 fingers and toes. Some even get specific and prefer a boy over a girl. Today, as I watched the parents of Jallage and Joe Joe, I already know what they wanted. Merely to feel the warm blood running through their veins, to communicate the way only they know how and to be thankful for whatever time they have together on this earth. And IF that child is born with 10 fingers and toes, that’s a bonus.
The surgeons, the nurses and the rest of the staff at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters do this every day, realizing they hold precious lives in their hands. I will NEVER take that for granted. It’s parents like Jallage’s and Joe Joe’s and me who want to say THANK YOU to CHKD for giving us the gift of life.