Hope and Faith Go Hand and Hand


Emmy Markos and Paolo Recupero


Nearly one in one hundred babies in the U.S. are born with a Congenital Heart Defect. Two members of our Ipswich Public School’s community have started a fundraiser for Congenital Heart Defects. Alan Laroche and Samantha Colby both have a child that suffers or suffered from a Congenital Heart Defect. This goes to show you that anything can happen to anyone. The fundraisers being held for the children suffering with Congenital Heart Defects are to help further research and to bring people in a community closer. Coming together as a community is something we should not take lightly.

Congenital Heart Defects are something that shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, forty thousand infants are born with a Congenital Heart Defect in the U.S. each year. Congenital Heart Defects have the capability of affecting how a baby’s heart works when they are born. These heart defects are clearly not as uncommon as some would think. The causes for Congenital Heart Defects are certain issues with genes or chromosomes within the child, such as autism or down syndrome. Another cause is if the mother of the child was taking certain drugs, medications, or consuming alcohol during the pregnancy. The last common cause for Congenital Heart Defects is certain viruses and infections that may occur while the mother is pregnant. Most Congenital Heart Defect causes can be stopped or at least limited.

Although the symptoms of Congenital Heart Defects aren’t life threatening, they affect everyday life. Some of the symptoms for CHD are shortness of breath, difficulty with exercise, a bluish tint to fingernails, blue tint to lips and skin, fast paced breathing, lung infections, and sleepiness. If diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect, you are able to receive surgery; however, some children don’t qualify for the surgery at birth. If a child doesn’t qualify for surgery then they are forced to live their lives with the challenging heart defect. Hospitals all around the world are cracking down on these defects. They are starting to use tests like Echocardiograms, Cardiac Catheterizations, Chest X-rays, and Electrocardiograms. All of these tests can distinguish if you or your child suffers from a Congenital Heart Defect. The amount of children being diagnosed with Congenital Heart Defect is enormous; these numbers speak the truth and parents shouldn’t overlook them. Afterall, Congenital Heart Defects can happen to anyone.

Alan Laroche, sixth grade math teacher, and his wife Nikki are a part of the Mended Little Hearts National Organization, and became interested in Congenital Heart Defects when their son, Julien, was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries. According to Stanford Children’s Health, “Transposition of the Great Arteries is a congenital (present at birth) heart defect. Due to abnormal development of the fetal heart during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy, the large vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, and to the body are improperly connected.” When it comes to the fundraising, Alan has his own personal goal of reaching $1,000 for the Eversource Walk in June. As of March 8th, he has raised $310. Alan and Nikki will also be participating in the Heart Association Walk this year. If you’re interested in getting involved, Alan said, “people can get involved by supporting local fundraising events by giving their time to work at the events, being a participant at the events, or donating funds to the CHD cause through Boston Children’s Hospital.”

Samantha Colby, sixth grade science teacher, was introduced to Congenital Heart Defects three years ago when her son Parker was born with two holes in his heart (Autistic Spectrum Disorder & Ventricular Septal Defect) which resulted in open heart surgery when he was just four months old. Samantha has started Congenital Heart Defect fundraising for Boston Children’s Hospital as a thank you for saving her son and said, “It is now three years later, and I am ready to give back.” Samantha and her family are also participating in the Eversource Walk this June and have a personal fundraising goal of $500.

Both Alan and Samantha are giving back and fundraising for others who are going through a difficult time that they had gone through. They’re ready to give back and get more knowledge out about Congenital Heart Defects.