It’s Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Month, and actor Jaime King has spoken out about her own little boy’s very bumpy start to life.
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“A perilous and complex congenital heart issue”
Jaime’s mum to four-year-old James and two-year-old Leo, and married to film director Kyle Newman. (You might know Jaime as Lemon Breeland in Hart of Dixie?!)
She spoke a little more about how her son Leo was diagnosed with a heart condition during the second trimester of her pregnancy. This meant he needed open heart surgery when he was born, to correct the defect.
“It’s #chdawareness month so I thought we should share our story of the birth and journey of Leo Thames,” Jaime wrote on Instagram.” At 22 weeks pregnant he was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries. A perilous and complex congenital heart issue. We were told he had to have open heart surgery for him to survive.”
“In transposition of the great arteries, the aorta is connected to the right ventricle and the pulmonary artery is connected to the left ventricle. This is the opposite of a normal heart’s anatomy.”
“Strong as a lion”
Jaime thanked the team of the Cedars Sinai congenital heart program for correcting Leo’s heart defect, and revisited a time that was obviously incredibly testing and traumatic for this little family. She was keen to share how Leo’s health issues impacted her family, and discuss the healthcare crisis America is facing.
“We are lucky that they now have this surgery as not so long ago he would not have had a chance. As it’s a traumatic yet beautiful story I will share only these details. He is alive and well because he is strong as a lion. He fought so hard and spent his every newborn day for weeks in the ICU.”
“Because we have the means to have the most brilliant doctors and healthcare – the will and faith of our own souls – the strength of a healthy marriage – friends and family that were there every step of the way we made it through.”
“He is perfectly healthy”
Jaime explained that Leo’s recovery has been nothing short of gobsmacking, and admits she now takes nothing for granted, still feeling understandably traumatised by this bumpy start.
“I took a long time to feel safe and balanced after this fight. He is a perfectly healthy and radiant two and a half year old child. As if nothing ever happened.”
While her circumstances meant that baby Leo had the best care on offer, Jaime notes that countless other families are in a less fortunate position, and should be guaranteed the same right.
“So many families and children do not have this. We must fight for them and their health care so that they will have the God given right to a healthy and happy future. Thank you.”
“Godmother = Bliss”
Jaime’s friend Taylor Swift very generously made a significant donation in Leo’s honour, once he was on the mend. Taylor is Leo’s godmother and it’s fair to say they both seem to have hit the jackpot!
“TS knew that by giving back in this way would be the greatest gift one could give to us, to Leo Thames and to all of those with congenital heart issues,” Jaime said of Taylor. “She came to the ICU to comfort us, to hold and bond with him with such grace and strength.”
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Dear all- at 20 weeks our son was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries AKA TGA. He had a major heart surgery, that was terrifying, and traumatic for us as parents, for our family. Only a few of our best friends knew. I felt that I had to protect him in fear of the unknown, fear he would not make it. We felt isolated & confused. @taylorswift does so many selfless acts that go unnoticed because she does them silently, from such a great place of unconditional giving. As the Godmother of Leo Thames for his birthday she gave an incredible donation to the people that saved his life Dr. Allistar Phillips and his brilliant team. It made us realize that silence cannot connect other parents & people going through these issues. TS knew that by giving back in this way would be the greatest gift one could give to us, to Leo Thames and to all of those with congenital heart issues. She came to the ICU to comfort us, to hold and bond with him with such grace & strength. Our gift back is to share our story that anyone that is going through this is not alone, we understand & want to stand up to bring awareness in the greatest way possible. Leo Thames is the strongest, healthiest boy because of this team. He will live a full and whole life & never have to look back. Thank you Taylor & to EVERYONE listed on this letter we love you. With gratitude and humbleness ? Jaime and Kyle