Message from Eric Ankerud: I am very pleased to share my wife’s story of courage and determination with Heartfelt Dreams Foundation followers. As a congenital heart defect patient, having been born with tetralogy of Fallot in the late 1950’s, Lori has been an inspiration to me for more than 34 years. Together we have learned much about this serious birth defect and recognized both the need and importance of specialized, ongoing medical care. When Lori was faced with having major heart reconstructive surgery in her 50’s, we reflected on the life ahead and throughout this ordeal, she maintained a strong sense of hope and a happiness. With that courage, she again survived surgery, thrived with a healthy heart, and became my heartfelt hero. Throughout our wonderful journey together, we have recently reflected on our family life past, present, and future. In thinking of all memorable experiences, especially those related to her heart condition, I am interestingly reminded of a time many years ago when our daughter was about 4 years old. When Lori and I arrived home following another of her annual check-ups with the cardiologist, our daughter greeted us by asking if the doctor had fixed mommy’s broken heart! To this day, our hearts remain filled with love!
Message from Heartfelt Dreams Foundation (Lori and Eric): Malcolm Coffin’s condition came to our attention during a 7 hour drive from New Hampshire to Western New York we were listening to Bug Country Radio 99.7 & 101.1 in Utica, NY (https://bugcountry.com/). Four month old Malcolm Coffin was born with a ventricular septal defect (VSD), which is an opening between his right and left ventricle, as well as a blockage. We Learned that Malcolm’s parents were spending time and money frequently traveling to the hospital from their home in Utica for cardiac care. His first open heart surgery was performed on February 12, 2019. Heartfelt Dreams Foundation was very pleased to provide financial assistance to Malcolm’s family to support their ongoing travel and medical expenses. In addition, Heartfelt Dreams Foundation has provided a hand-made baby quilt to the Coffin family as part of the Quilt to Care program. Heartfelt Dreams Foundation is also pleased to recognize Bug Country Radio for sponsoring a January afternoon of live music to raise money for any expenses Malcolm’s family incurs due to the congenital heart defect surgery.
Saida was told she had a heart condition at 5 years old, but at that time she was told there were not procedures to fix her condition. She never had any trouble with her breathing as a child, but did notice her lips and fingers might turn blue in the cold and she never played sports in school as she felt tired with strenuous exercise. She married Mohamed and at that time Saida was not aware she had low oxygen level. When she came to the US in 2014, her primary care doctor noted her oxygen level was low at 85% and referred her to a cardiologist. She was later referred to the Adult Congenital Heart Disease (ACHD) specialists at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and ultimately underwent a complex cardiac surgery at MGH which corrected her heart condition and normalized her oxygen levels. Although her heart condition was repaired, she and Mohamed were aware that her heart condition was not cured. They knew that carrying a pregnancy would still be high risk even after the surgery, but that having this surgery would allow them the possibility of potentially having a family one day now that Saida’s oxygen levels were normal. After the surgery Saida worked very hard to keep her heart healthy by exercising regularly, eating well and following very closely with her heart doctors. The couple became pregnant in 2020 and were managed very closely by cardiologists and obstetricians. She developed fluid buildup (heart failure), abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias), and high lung pressures (pulmonary hypertension) due to her congenital heart condition during pregnancy. As her doctors specialized in congenital heart disease and pregnancy, they were able to anticipate her heart’s unique needs during the pregnancy, manage the fluid and arrhythmias very closely to allow her to carry the pregnancy longer than her body would have naturally allowed.
Saida was admitted to MGH at 31 weeks gestation for management of her heart as her heart failure was becoming worse. With the help of a large multidisciplinary team of cardiologist, obstetrical, anesthesia doctors and nurses at MGH, Saida underwent a carefully planned Cesarean-section in the cardiac operating room on many heart supporting medication and she was cared for in the ICU for several days. Mohamed was able to stay in Boston close to his wife and son during this very critical and challenging time due to the support of HeartFelt Dreams Foundation. She delivered baby Omar at 3.9 pounds on February 22,2021 and he did terrifically well in the neonatal intensive care unit steadily gaining weight. Saida has continued to require very close cardiology monitoring with her doctors and baby Omar is now 11 pounds and thriving!
Skylar had been struggling with a congenital heart defect into his early 20’s. With his heart condition deteriorating, other organs including his liver suffered. Growing up in rural Washington State, Skylar never had to pay for parking. When he was told that his survival depended on a heart and liver transplant, the nearest specialty heart center was in Los Angeles. Skylar and his new wife, Alex, moved to LA for the transplant surgery at UCLA Medical Center. His surgery was a success!
Devynn is 13 years old and in mid-August 2022 she underwent her third open heart surgery this time to replace her aortic valve. Heartfelt Dreams Foundation provided emotional support along with free hotel accommodations and transportation for Devynn and her family from their home in New Hampshire to Boston Children’s Hospital through her week-long hospital stay and her limo ride home. Devynn remains active with school and enjoys art and fashion design. She also loves being physically active with dance classes, hiking, bike riding and has recently taken up ice skating. She rarely stops moving while leading a pretty normal life! People so often exclaim that it’s hard to believe that she has a heart condition when they see her in action. How nice Devynn looks smiling in her comfort blanket made specially for her as part of the Heartfelt Dreams Foundation Quilt to Care program.
In recognition of the patients, families, medical professionals, and friends who support and care for the infants, children, and adults living with congenital heart defects, Heartfelt Dreams Foundation invites you to share your messages, photos, and stories of hope, inspiration, and caring with others through our Heroes page. Please Contact Us or call us on 1-833-470-CARE