This is Jett. Like most 5-year-old boys, Jett likes to ride his bike, play with his Mom, Dad and brother, and yes, lick lollipops (especially grape ones). You’d never know from watching Jett bounce around the park that he has a congenital heart defect (CHD). CHD is an abnormality of the heart present at birth that could present as an abnormally structured heart and/or large vessels, incomplete or missing parts, may have holes between chamber partitions or have narrow, leaky valves or narrow vessels. He’s among the 1 in 100 children who are diagnosed with CHD. That’s a startling number — 1 in 100, which means statistically someone in your child’s school has CHD. Fortunately for Jett, his family found out about his diagnosis early. This is their story.
Las Vegas parents LaVey and Tyson Kindred were packing up to leave the hospital with their newborn son like any other excited new parents. Until one last visit from the staff pediatrician.
“We hear a heart murmur.”
After being seen by a cardiologist and going through several tests, Jett was diagnosed with tetralogy of Fallot. Tetralogy of Fallot is a rare heart defect that features four problems: a hole between the lower chambers of the heart, an obstruction from the heart to the lungs, the aorta (blood vessel) lies over the hole in the lower chambers, and the muscle surrounding the lower right chamber becomes overly thickened. Around 1 in 100 children are diagnosed annually with a congenital heart defect. Jett’s defect affects around 2 in 10,000. Those numbers are terrifying to a new parent. After Jett’s parents explored several options, Jett successfully underwent open-heart surgery at three months old.
Now five years old, Jett is living a healthy, active life. Although he will require surgeries and frequent tests for the rest of his life, Jett’s family is grateful for their positive outcome and everyone they encountered along the way, from Las Vegas to Memphis. Through social media, the family has found an amazing support system.
When asked what advice she would give to another family dealing with a congenital heart defect diagnosis, LaVey said simply to trust your gut as a parent. You will be given so many options, one not better than the other. Just follow your parental intuition and ask questions. You are your child’s only advocate. The Kindred family is happy to be part of bringing awareness to congenital heart defects not only in February, but for the rest of their lives.