February is American Heart Month, a time to honor the bravery of more than 40,000 children who are born with congenital heart disease (CHD) each year. As we reflect on the impact of this common disease, Heart Month gives us a chance to educate ourselves and learn how we can help kids, like Starlight Kid Ambassador Finn, that are living with heart disease.
Heart Warrior Finn is an energetic, outgoing 7-year-old who loves playing with his big brother Mason and brings laughter to his family every day. When looking at him, you wouldn’t know that he was born with congenital heart disease (CHD) and has had 18 procedures, including two open heart surgeries.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for CHD, only temporary fixes until the next surgery. Because of this, Finn has spent countless hours at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and knows all too well the fear and anxiety that can come with being a hospitalized child.
CHOP is where Finn first experienced a Starlight program in 2015. After his heart surgery at just one year old, Finn wouldn’t sleep in the hospital crib, but the Child Life team had a solution – a Starlight Radio Flyer Wagon. Ever since then, Finn has loved the iconic red wagon that not only gave him a safe place to sleep, but also became a fun alternative to a wheelchair when getting around at the hospital.
Three years ago, Finn was introduced to Starlight Hospital Gowns, which gave him the opportunity to wear soft, cozy gowns during his treatment. While colorful Starlight Gowns give kids a reason to smile, the breathable fabric is especially important for CHD heart warriors like Finn, who can overheat easily.
With 40,000 babies born with CHD each year in the US, Finn and his family are not alone in their experience.
These Heart Warriors often undergo multiple surgeries throughout their life, staying in the hospital for extended periods of time. Innovative and groundbreaking Starlight Programs can help make these hospitalizations more manageable, just like Gowns and Wagons did for Finn.