LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Congenital Heart Defects, or CHD, is most common birth defect impacting children across the country, including right here in Las Vegas.
It’s not only the children who suffer, but their parents as well. The new moms and dads who have babies diagnosed with CHD often spend weeks if not months inside Sunrise Children’s Hospital worrying about the health of their child.
That’s where they meet Heart Families of Nevada- a new non-profit in Las Vegas that is offering hope from people who understand their battle.
President of Heart Families of Nevada, Alicia Wood, has a three-year-old son named Oliver with CHD.
“He has two aortas instead of one like the rest of us, and they were wrapped around his trachea and esophagus,” Wood added.
Vice-president of the non-profit, Alexis Marshall, has a two-year-old daughter named Celine with CHD.
“I literally saw my daughter’s heart beating from an open chest,” Marshall.
At the start baby Oliver's heart journey, Wood was given a gift basket from a mom who’d gone through the same thing. She says it had items inside she didn’t even know she needed.
She decided to pay it forward, reaching out to other local families with a CHD diagnosis- one of them being Marshall.
“It gave me so much hope. From that moment on, my family saw a change in me. I wasn’t so sad, I had hope again,” Marshall added.
Now the pair has teamed up to create the non-profit Heart Families of Nevada. They partner with Sunrise Children’s Hospital to pass out gift baskets to all families with a new CHD diagnosis.
The gift baskets have items for baby, but also for mom and dad when the day seems unbearable.
“Watch for the little miracles. I remember when Alicia said that to me, and it took me so far. I saw so many miracles with my daughter and it got us through really tough times,” Marshall said.
Beyond the material items- Wood and Marshall offer a community of families who have been there and want to help. They’re showing new, scared families that there is hope and happiness on the other side of those hospital walls.
“The connection is so important to us, because we know how powerful it was when we made that connection with another heart family,” Wood said.
Heart Families of Nevada is in it’s infancy, established inn 2021. They’d like to continue to expand, eventually offering housing and therapy for heart families.
You can find more information and donate to the cause at the Heart Families of Nevada website.
You can also purchase a candle with proceeds going towards Heart Families of Nevada.