Local Family Honors Sister in Heart Walk
FOX 47 News
Lansing, MI – Kellie Rowe, of Lansing, describes her baby sister, Savannah, as very sweet, strong, and absolutely wonderful. Savannah is a high school sophomore, and when you meet her you immediately know why her big sister adores her. She’ll greet you with a big smile and you’ll quickly learn she loves to write, enjoys her media class immensely and likes hanging out with friends. But her family didn’t know if they would get the chance to see Savannah grow up.
Savannah was born with a congenital heart defect, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). HLHS is a condition where a baby is born with an underdeveloped left side of the heart, including the aorta, aortic valve, left ventricle and mitral valve. This heart defect is usually fatal within the first days or month of life unless it's treated. Each case is treated specifically for that case and parents must make a plan with doctors to determine how they will go about treatment. Normally HLHS is treated with multiple surgeries, as Savannah underwent.
“It affected the entire family. I was just five and my brother eight when Savannah was born. We may have been young, but we knew something was wrong because my parents were always at the hospital with Savannah while we frequently stayed with family members,” said Rowe.
Over a two year period Savannah underwent multiple surgeries which saved her life, but also caused side-affects, including a loss of brain function. “I remember being so excited to have my baby sister talk with me, but she was delayed because of the surgeries. I would ask my mom ‘why won’t she talk to me?’ But at about three years old Savannah began speaking and hasn’t stopped.
“We just had her yearly check-up and she is doing great. My family and I are so grateful for all the research the Heart Association has done,” said Rowe. “That’s why we’ll be raising funds for the Heart Walk - because we know the difference it’s made in our lives.”
The association’s Kimberly Earnshaw, corporate development director, says “Research is possible because of the generous donations Heart Walk participants raise. In fact, we were able to fund more than $13.6 million in the last fiscal year for new research broadly related to children’s heart disease.”
Congenital Heart Defects, such as HLHS, are the No. 1 birth defect in the United States, and the No. 1 killer of infants with birth defects. Research is being conducted every day to change this. Currently, Heart Association funded researchers are studying how the heart develops before birth and how congenital heart defects develop. Learning the source of the problem can potentially unlock many answers and save more lives like Savannah’s.
Whether you know someone affected by a congenital heart defect, a heart attack, a stroke or just want to be proactive in fighting these killers, the Heart Walk is where you can make a difference. The American Heart Association’s Heart Walk will take place on Saturday, September 28th at the Delta Dental campus in Okemos at 4100 Okemos Road. Registration begins at 8:30a.m. and the non-competitive 5K walk at 9:30a.m. Build a Heart Walk team today and help families like the Rowe’s and hundreds more. Teams are made up of friends and family committed to making a difference in the fight against heart disease and stroke. Many teams are formed in honor or memory of a loved one. Be sure to register online at www.lansingheartwalk.org or email Kimberly Earnshaw at email@example.com for more information.