Helping Heart Warriors Find Comfort During Hospitalization

Meet Finn

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 learn how we can support heart patients like Finn, who are living with congenital heart defects.

Heart Warrior Finn is an energetic, outgoing 8-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.

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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), experiencing fear and anxiety as he anticipates treatments and procedures.

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. When kids like Finn take joyrides in the Starlight Radio Flyer Wagon, it eases their feelings of anxiety by making the hospital feel more familiar.

Baby Starlight Kid Finn - RFW - Square - image asset
Finn + RFW wagon - blog image asset

To parents, the wagon can be just another toy, but to kids, especially a special needs kid, it is magic.

- Kelly, Finn's mom

When Finn was introduced to Starlight Hospital Gowns, it gave him the opportunity to wear soft gowns during treatment instead of the standard, itchy hospital gowns. Its breathable fabric is especially important for CHD heart warriors like Finn, who can overheat easily. Heart warriors enjoy Starlight Hospital Gowns because they give full coverage and are specially designed with ties down the back and snaps on the sleeves, creating easier access for medical procedures and treatments. 

Finn - Pineapple Gown - close up

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. Uncertainty and fear of staying in the hospital can make a child's stay an emotional and stressful experience. But when you give kids a Starlight program, they feel happier, more at ease, and resilient to endure the challenges they may face during their hospital stay.

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