Starlight kid, Everly, endured her third open heart surgery before her first birthday. She was born with congenital heart defects called interrupted aortic arch and ventricular septal defect – a big hole in the middle of her heart. Everly is expected to have open heart surgery every three to five years until she can have an adult-size tube with a valve inserted.
Unfortunately, Everly isn’t an anomaly.
Did you know, congenital heart defects, or CHDs, are the most common birth defects? They occur in almost 1% of births resulting in approximately 40,000 children born with heart defects in the US annually.
February is American Heart Month, focused on education and awareness for heart health
For Everly, all the open heart surgeries she undergoes, it’s just a temporary fix, but it’s not a cure. Kids with CHD experience very long hospital stays. Everly has spent more time in the hospital than most adults will ever have experienced in their lifetime.
That’s where Starlight steps in.
Our heart journey with Everly began last February when her older brother, Jack, designed a Starlight Gown for our Design-a-Gown competition. It was red, with hearts and LOTS of glitter. He was inspired by his little sister and he wanted her to have a gown that was unique to her fight and keep her safe and comfy.
We manufactured 30,000 of Jack’s winning Starlight Gown design and distributed them to our hospital partners across the US. The first one, of course, going to Everly that she wore during her third open heart surgery.
“As she came out of the fog of the anesthesia later in the evening after surgery she was pretty grumpy,” Lauren, Everly’s mom tell us. “We put her in her gown and she immediately got a little better. “And Jack loves the gown, because the ties are down the side rather than the back, so “her butt doesn’t hang out!”
Now kids all across the country are wearing Jack’s Starlight Gown inspired by an incredible heart warrior.
Heart Warriors ❤️ their Starlight Gown
Four-year-old Finn was born with a heart defect and endured open heart surgery a few months after birth. He loves to wear his heart-themed Starlight Gown to his cardiology appointments.
For many kids with heart defects, their heart is working 10 times harder than the average child.
“He gets hot very easily because his heart overworks,” Kelly, Finn’s mom said. “The gowns in the hospital when you wash them they are very stiff and like cardboard and not breathable.”
Starlight Gowns and their ultra soft and lightweight material allows kids with CHD to be comfy during many uncomfortable situations.
“Wouldn’t it be so nice if it were possible to switch out all hospital gowns to Starlight Gowns?” Kelly said. “It would make such a difference!”
We love seeing all the photos of kids wearing our heart Starlight Gowns. If your child received one, please share it with us! We’re highlighting #heartwarriors all month long.
Have a heart for hospitalized kids and donate today. Your donation can help bring joy, comfort and a lot of smiles to hospitalized kids, like Everly and Finn, who spend so much time in the hospital.