Friday, April 19, 2013

Baby Hearts Press' First Guest Blogger -- Katie Cataldo!

I first have to say how excited I am to be a guest blogger this month for Baby Hearts Press!

Well, let me introduce myself. I am Katie Lynn Cataldo and 18 years ago I was born with a congenital heart disease called Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome.  I had my first heart surgery when I was 3 days old, which was the BT shunt.  I had my Open Heart Surgery when I was 4 years old, a Glenn.  My last heart procedure was 8 years ago.  I have been so blessed to be a healthy HRHS patient. 

I went 15 years not knowing any other CHD patients.  I did go through a moment in my life were I felt different and like no one knew how I felt as a kid.  I was always so unique because no one else had a big scar on their chest.  I would constantly get asked what happened to me and I have to say some of their conclusions were pretty funny.  Finally, at the age of 15, I decided to learn more about my heart condition.  In finding out all about my heart, I began to come in contact with other families and patients with congenital heart disease. It’s crazy how a little social media network like Twitter can get you connected to many other CHD patients.  I went from knowing only myself born with a heart defect, to finding out 1 out of 100 babies are born with a heart defect, and it’s the number one birth defect in America.

Now I am excited to be doing so much in the CHD community and working with Anna Jaworski for Baby Hearts Press.  Three years ago if you would have told me I would be talking to CHD families all over the world and helping organizations with awareness, I would have laughed and said that was not the kind of thing I could do.  But, here I am and looking forward to do more.

 • Katie is also a blogger for Heart Waves.  You can read more by Katie here:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saving Lives and Giving Hope

Saving Children's Hearts

Recently I reviewed a book that talked about a non-profit organization called Save a Child's Heart I thought the book (Sabrina: The Girl with a Hole in her Heart was very interesting and a concept I had heard of before and I was curious what other organizations there are available to help children with congenital heart defects.  There's an excellent Q & A about Save A Child's Heart here:  This page discussed answers to questions regarding donations, how to get a child help, how people can volunteer and what opportunities there are for medical students.  Save a Child's Heart is based in Israel.

The International Children's Heart Foundation is an organization with a mission identical to Save A Child's Heart. Both organizations believe in the sanctity of human life. Both feel that children, regardless of whether or not their parents can afford surgery, deserve a chance for life. Both organizations take care of children who otherwise would be overlooked, forgotten or simply neglected by their local medical community because their own neighborhood doesn't have the resources needed to care for a child with a congenital heart defect or because their parents can't afford the costly surgery necessary for the child to survive.

The ICHF has performed over 6000 surgeries since it began in 1993. While they know they can't save every child with a heart defect, they are doing what they can to save as many children as they can with the resources they have.

The last organization I will briefly discuss is the Take Heart Association Project

This organization helps children in Keyna who were born with congenital heart defects. Thanks to the Take Heart Association Project 120 children have been able to return home to live healthy lives. They take care of the poorest children in their country and they do it because:

More than 10,000 babies are born in Kenya with a congenital heart defect each year. However, at this time, there is no dedicated congenital heart program in all of Africa. Lacking the access to modern medical care, many of these children die needlessly in their early childhood years.

Since 1992, THAP has sponsored 120 children to undergo heart surgery many from the poorest areas surrounding Nairobi, Kenya - to undergo successful heart surgery in Kenya, India, Italy and the United States.

THAP also assists the children by providing pre- & post-op diagnosis, medicine, accomodations and transportation for the children who travel to Nairobi from remote areas for medical treatment.

I find it touching that it was so easy for me to find three outstanding organizations with the same mission:  Saving Children Born with Broken Hearts. All of these organization cater to families who cannot afford the expensive treatments needed to save children with complex congenital heart defects.  All of these organizations seem blind to race, religion or political beliefs. Their sole concern is saving children who would otherwise be lost.

If you, or someone you know, would like to get involved in helping one of these organizations, please check out their websites. There are many opportunities to serve these organizations. While financial donations are always needed and appreciated, I found it refreshing that they also had other ways people could be part of the healing process.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Showing Gratitude

How do you show gratitude?  Do you send a card, make a phone call, buy a gift or surprise someone with something made especially by you?

After visiting with numerous people in Washington, D.C. for Advocacy Day with the Adult Congenital Heart Association and Mended Little Hearts I felt I had to do something special as a Thank You to the kind people who met with us and listened to our stories. I decided that the typical, Thank You note which I usually calligraphy by hand just wouldn't do. So instead I created very special Thank You notes thanks to Walgreens!

First I uploaded the photos we took at the event to my Walgreens account and then I came up with the following cards:

Since we didn't really get a chance to meet with Senator Cruz to talk, but just went for the Texas Tuesday Coffee (photo opportunity) I shared with him in my Thank You note what I wish I'd had time to talk to him about.

 I was thankful that I had a chance to let Senator Cruz know why Joey and I had traveled all the way from Texas to Washington, D.C. I don't know if he'll ever see that card, but if he does, and he sees Joey or me again, he'll have a better idea of what we'll want to talk to him about!

This card was special because Joey took it so I put the photo of John Coryn's legislative assistant Wes Hambrick,  Mary Adair and me  on the outside:
I put the photo I took of Joey and Mr. Hambrick on the inside.
Luckily we also had a chance to meet with John Carter's legislative assistant, Taylor Gilliam. She was very sweet to us and all of us had a chance to talk to her about what we thought was important. The inside of her card was the same as the previous card.

 The last Thank You card I made was to Amy Baskin at the ACHA. Thanks to Amy, I didn't have to call the legislators to schedule my own appointments. Thanks to Amy and the ACHA I had a chance to learn about how I could be a good advocate for our cause. I wanted Amy and the ACHA to know how much I appreciated what they did for Joey and me.
Here is the inside of the card:

It took a bit of time to create the cards but I hope they were appreciated by the people I sent them to. I sent copies to Mary and Joey, too, to remember our remarkable trip.

I would like to conclude with this quote I found:

"Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts." ~ Henri Federic Amiel