Faith Brackett - 2019 Maine Go Red For Women Spokeswoman and Children’s Heart Foundation Young Adult Board Member
Faith Brackett is a 2019 Maine Go Red For Women Spokeswoman and The Children’s Heart Foundation Young Adult Board Member. The American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation jointly fund annual Congenital Heart Defect Research Awards, collaborate to raise awareness of congenital heart defects, and support the congenital heart defect community through the Support Network.
Raising awareness about heart disease is very important to me as I have personally seen the impact it can have on an individual, and on a family.
I was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, though at the time, no one knew it. This was 25 years ago, and 25 years is a long time when measured by the advancements of medical technology.
My condition was complicated. My left ventricle did not develop. My valves were abnormal. My aorta and pulmonary arteries were small and pinched, and there were holes in the upper and lower chambers of my heart. I was going to need surgery. Not just one, three were predicted.
The doctors offered hope, telling my family these procedures could save my life. The odds were 50/50. It was going to work, or it wasn’t. Not the best odds, but I stand here today having proudly beat them. I did not have the predicted three surgeries the doctor spoke of. I instead had a total of 8 major open-heart operations.
My first operation was at 4 months old. My surgeon jumped in with gifted hands and surgical tools. He connected major arteries together and added man-made parts. He rearranged the flow of my blood so my heart would not have to work as hard. I made it through the surgery, but my health got worse. My team did not give up! 4 days later, I went back to the O.R. My odds for survival decreased to grim. They kept fighting, and so did I. This operation was more delicate than the first. After 9 long surgical hours, they tried 4 times to allow my heart to beat on its own. Failure was not an option. 4 tries were not enough. The surgeon added another part and tried again. I am here, alive, beyond thankful for his persistence.
I had my third surgery when I was 2. I suffered a stroke and lost all movement on my right side, but now you would never know it.
My fourth surgery was at the age of 4, and my 5th in second grade, making me the first child ever to undergo what is now known as the bi-ventricle repair.
This groundbreaking science allowed me the opportunity to go to school, make friends, and become a big sister.
Heart surgery number 6 was in 8th grade and number 7 and 8 were just after my senior year of high school. I would not be here today without a fight and I could not have won this battle alone. It is because of amazing medical advancements and the type of research that The Children’s Heart Foundation and the American Heart Association support, that we can have hope. And when there is hope, there is a way.