Congenital Heart Disease support groups in Greater Toledo area

Congenital heart defects are one of the most common birth defects. Experts say advances in medicine are helping children thrive.

TOLEDO, Ohio – February is National Heart Month and a local family is raising awareness for congenital heart conditions.

Bryson Hoover was born six weeks early and quickly his parents, Amanda and Juston Hoover, learned something was wrong, but it would take a while to figure out what it was.

“He went undiagnosed for two weeks. He spent six weeks in intensive care and during that time we learned of his diagnosis,” said Amanda Hoover.

Bryson was born with a congenital heart defect, an abnormality that forms in the heart before birth. It is one of the most common birth defects.

“They did an operation and then another operation the same day, so we had some complications,” his mother explained.

“Bryson was a very unique type of congenital heart disease. When he was born he was pretty blue, so low in oxygen and had to do something right away or it would be catastrophic,” said Bryson’s doctor, a pediatric cardiologist at ProMedica, said Dr. William Suarez.

Said Bryson was the lively five-year-old boy he is today, driven by medical advances, adding, “He had an excellent repair and it cannot be said that he has ever had any type of congenital heart defect.”

Suarez is also Amanda Harper’s doctor. She was born in 1981 with a congenital heart defect. She has also had open heart surgeries and countless cardiac catheterization exams, but said she was not withheld.

“(I) grew up doing sports, cheerleading, horse riding, showing horses and a little bit of basketball,” said Harper.

Harper is now committed to serving other families with CHD through the Conquering CHD Ohio group that has a chapter in northwest Ohio that offers support groups for families and other activities.

“On Tuesday night we have a zoom chat night and a quiz night for the teenagers. On Friday night we have a zoom chat, peer-to-peer for all adults,” said Harper.

The Hoovers are also involved in the effort and want families to know that there is support and hope. You can see it in her son.

“He’s a normal kid. He’s reached milestones since he got home and he’s done really well,” said Amanda Hoover.

Suarez, Harper, and the Hoovers all emphasized the importance of pregnant mothers having 20-week ultrasounds because defects can be detected early and interventions can be made to help babies get the best results.

“Our diagnosis is really good. We can sometimes do it before and after birth. We can identify these children and get them to surgery pretty quickly. The surgical results are excellent,” Suarez said.

If you are interested in delving into the conquest of CHD Ohio, click here.

Visit here for the private group in Northwest Ohio.

More resources can be found here.

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