My name is Laura Veloso and I am the proud mom of three kiddos: Emma, Gavin and Owen. I have been a stay-at-home mom since my eldest, Emma was born in 2003.
I had always wanted lots of children so after having Emma and Gavin, my husband and I decided to have just one more. Well, I convinced my husband we needed just one more. A year later, we found out we were expecting! But everything did not go as expected. At the second standard ultrasound, it was found that he would be born with a very severe and complex congenital heart defect, HypoplasticLeft Heart Syndrome (HLHS). My husband and I were utterly dumbfounded. How could a baby be born with only half a heart?
The cardiologist that made the preliminary diagnosis was brutally honest about our baby’s diagnosis. While inside my womb, our baby was safe and would continue to develop. It was the instant that he takes his first breathe that his battle to survive would begin. He would start fighting for his life and doctors would have to intervene immediately. However, we were told that I was within the correct timeframe, should we want to terminate the pregnancy. We both answered “NO!” in unison at the mere mention of termination. I had felt my son move inside my womb. I could not bring myself to consider aborting. While being honest, the cardiologist was also clear that this was not necessarily a fatal condition. Medical advancements have come a long way and it was possible for him to survive. It was going to be a hard and excruciating journey, but there was hope. That was all we needed.
I remember the drive home from the doctor’s office like it happened yesterday. My husband and I battled with every emotion you could think of. By the end of the car ride home, we had decided the upon the baby’s name. If our son was not going to survive birth or the few days following, he was going to be an active member of our family inside me. He would be a person that was loved by his family, his brother and sister and our friends. We were going to refer to him by his name so that whatever precious time we had with him, he was a significant member or our family of 5. And so, the story of Owen Traynor Ahola Veloso began.
Owen’s battle to live has been exactly that, a battle. We all, every person that comes into our life, become soldiers in our mission to keep Owen’s heart beating. Through the past several years I have become a cardiologist in my own right. I know more about pediatric cardiology then most emergency room doctors. I also know how desperately under funded the area of Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) is. When I was 10 years old, the first survivors of HLHS were born. Prior, it was 100% fatal. Nothing could be done. Babies we kept “comfortable” while their parents watch them slowly die within two weeks of being born. If that much advancement can happen in my lifetime, then surely more can be done! That was the birth of my mission, to educate every, single person I meet on CHDs. Most people have no notion of CHDs past a hole in the heart. They have no idea that 1 in 100 babies worldwide are born with heart defects. Most people believe that heart conditions are only for the overweight and the old, not babies and children. Through awareness, I have made it my goal to do everything that I can to fundraise and educate. I cannot fix my son’s heart, but I will do everything in my power to get the money needed into the hands of the doctors who can.
Owen will be 6 in June 2014. His future is far from certain and he will need many more procedures and surgeries. He will never live a “normal” life. But when Owen walks into the room, everyone in it lights up. He has a spirit and a spark that is truly remarkable for a child that has suffered and endured more then most people do in an entire lifetime. Owen and all of our heart children are proof that my fight, our fight for awareness and education, is worth it.
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