MercyOne in Mason City honors babies born or diagnosed with CHD after birth

MercyOne Celebrates CHD week

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(ABC 6 News) – February is American Heart Month, aimed at raising awareness for those who have heart problems.

MercyOne in Mason City is honoring babies born or diagnosed with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) this week. Heart defects in babies can create serious strain on families.

“It can be very difficult for families because it’s going to involve a lot of hospital visits,” Dr. Haley Newbrough shared.

For Jacki Paulsen, all of those feelings are amplified.

Her son, Wesley, had to have open heart surgery when he was just six months old. “His defect was just something different, that I had to spin what I knew. Open heart surgery and high risk for infection, yeah. it was a lot.”

In extreme cases, babies have to go to the pediatric cardiologist. The closest of which is in Iowa City or Des Moines, over two hours away for most north Iowa communities.

Wesley also has down syndrome. According to Newbrough, there is a correlation. “The incidents of having congenital heart disease with Down Syndrome is about 50% , which is very high.”

The good news is, the Paulsen family has plenty of support. 

“Thankfully, my mom is our caregiver at home; when it was time for me to back to work, she was at home with them” stated Paulsen.

The community has also helped out as well. It’s allowed for Wesley to get the treatment he needs. He’s in better shape at two and a half years old. “He’s just a stud. He impresses me every day.”

With Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week ongoing at MercyOne, the staff at the hospital are anticipating plenty more happy stories like this one.

All babies born the rest of the month will be given a red hat to wear in honor of those born or diagnosed after birth with CHD.