Monday, September 23, 2013

Can One Person Make a Difference?

When we are young, many of us dream of making a difference in the world. Whether this difference is due to the career path we choose or the hobbies we are passionate about, we feel that our efforts can change the world, or at least our little corner of the world. As we age, it's not uncommon to get so busy with the business of dealing with life, especially once we marry and have children, that it's not uncommon for that dream of making a difference to be relegated to the back burner and seldom, but wistfully, thought of.

Can one person make a difference? Of course he or she can! The Internet is full of speeches about people who have done so (check out TED Talks for some great ones!), libraries have books full of stories about people making a difference and it is the fodder for many great sermons given on any given day in any given house of worship. So why is it that most people might believe that someone else can make a difference but certainly, not them? What is it that makes some people make the extra effort to actually do the work that makes a difference?

I believe the ingredient that is necessary for a person to really make a difference is passion.  If people are passionate about their beliefs and steadfast in their efforts to really do something to make a difference, they will make a difference.

Let's look at three women in the congenital heart defect community who have made a difference, what they did and how you can be part of their movement to help others!

Deb Hilton 

Deb Hilton is the mother of a child with a severe, congenital heart defect. She has made it her mission to help doctors understand the importance of their communication with parents when they are diagnosing severe, congenital heart defects and making suggestions for treatment. In order to help doctors understand, not only her story but the story of many others, Deb conducted a survey of parents in the congenital heart defect community. She then took her information, analyzed it and has written two different articles that have been published in Pediatric Cardiology -- a journal for doctors!
The titles of the articles are:  How Not to Tell Parents About Their Child's New Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Disease: An Internet Survey of 841 Parents and  Prenatal diagnosis of hypoplastic left heart syndrome: impact of counseling patterns on parental perceptions and decisions regarding termination of pregnancy(for links to the full articles, go here:

Kristine McCormick

After the loss of her precious baby, Cora, Kristine McCormick became a mother on a mission. Cora died in Kristine's arms due to an undetected congenital heart defect. Kristine started raising awareness about congenital heart defects and the importance of screening newborns before leaving the hospital. There is an inexpensive test that can be given to babies, it's non-invasive and very quick, called pulse oximetry. Kristine has been advocating for this test to be required before newborns can leave the hospital. Had Cora been given this test, she might still be alive today.  Cora's story so influenced her U.S. Congressman, Senator Brent Waltz, that he proposed a law be passed in Indiana requiring newborns to have pulse oximetry performed on them before they are discharged and he called it Cora's Law. You can read more about it here:

Michelle Rintamaki 

Usually Michelle likes staying in the background helping others and not drawing attention to herself, but I'm going to use her as yet another example of a mom on a mission and making a difference. For almost two decades Michelle and I have been working hard to bring resources to the CHD community. Michelle has amassed the most comprehensive clearinghouse of resources of interest to the CHD community on the Internet. Her support group, Kids with Heart, has done parent matching and holds annual events for those in the Wisconsin area. Michelle is another example of a person who has made a difference, albeit quietly and without the fanfare that Kristine and Deb have garnered. Considering the thousands of people Kids with Heart (with Michelle at the helm) has helped, her contribution is significant.  To purchase resources from Kids with Heart, go here:

Whether you want to create a survey to develop a database of information worthy of writing articles for medical journals or whether you're willing to share your story and possibly influence lawmakers to create laws that could save lives or whether you're willing to gather resources to help others, these are just three ways an ordinary person (with an extraordinary passion) can help members of the CHD community. Any one of us can make a difference in our world. It just takes passion, a mission and determination to see a project from start to finish. You, too, can make a difference, or you can contact one of these ladies to find out what you can do to help them with their mission.

Please visit Baby Hearts Press at for resources for the congenital heart defect community.

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