Healing worried parents hearts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Healing worried parents hearts

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WATERLOO (KWWL) --  Having a baby with a heart defect is not easy. Yet thanks to not just medical advances, but also a new support group, there is a lot of help available for parents to handle it.

Elly Steffen of Waverly calls it the scariest thing ever: watching your 11-day-old newborn baby undergo heart surgery.

"To watch your child being rolled through on a ventilator with all these tubes and all these machines," said Steffen.

Her son, drew, is now doing well at a-year-and-a-half despite his congenital heart defect that has meant three more procedures since his initial surgery.

4-year-old Jack Schneider was born with the same heart problem. The Waverly boy has an undeveloped ventricle.

"When he was 2 and a-half, if he talked too fast he would run out of breath. It was pretty scary," said Jack's mom, Chris Schneider.

Both moms appreciate the support, not just of medical staff, but that other families can offer. So they've started a Cedar Valley chapter of "Heart Friends" through Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo.

"The more you know, the more you can be an advocate for your child because they can't tell you what hurts or what doesn't feel good," said Schneider.

Pediatric cardiologist Samir Chandra says through the support group, families can see older children with the same condition doing well.

"Can I see a child who's 5-years-old, 10 years or maybe at UNI who has the same condition. And those patients are in the community," said Dr. Chandra.

She says one in 100 babies has a heart defect but nearly 99% of them are repairable or will heal on their own.

"Majority of them will close their holes by 4 or 5 years of age and do not need surgery," said Dr. Chandra.

Regardless, these moms hope to help mend the hearts of families when a child's is born so fragile.

To get more information about Heart Friends in Waterloo or Iowa City, call 319-272-7334.

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