Stories From The Heart: Growing Up With A Congenital Heart Defect
Today on smallbeats, we’re featuring a guest post from one of our very own heart patients, William Hind. He shares what his life has been like as a heart kid—and now that he’s grown into a teenager.
Chances are, if you saw me on the street, you would think that I’m like any other 15-year-old boy. It’s only when I’m at the swimming pool and you can see the scars on my chest, or maybe it’s when I need to jump into the school elevator to go up a flight of stairs that you notice I’m different from the average teen.
I was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). It’s a congenital heart defect. Because of it, I’ve had to be put to sleep 19 times for different procedures and 10 major surgeries.
My First Surgery Was At 3 Months Old.
I have to take medication twice daily—and probably will for the rest of my life—and I also have some stomach complications as a result of my condition.
I used to get bullied. I couldn’t always do what the other kids got to do, and I had to miss school and some activities here and there. For example, I did baseball for three years, but I had to stop because stomach surgery brought my energy levels way down.
Over the years, what got me through all of the surgeries and procedures was my family, the amazing staff at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, and believe it or not, Ellen Degeneres.
Listening to Ellen crack jokes and really care about other people—all while being super funny—got me through some really tough surgeries. So, if she happens to be reading this … I’d love to meet you, Ellen!
Things Have Really Come Together For Me.
Now, I’m in high school, and I want more than anything to help give back to my community. This year, I am a member of the Student Activity Council (SAC) at school. Currently, I’m helping make posters and fundraise for Make-A-Wish Foundation.
I’m also on the Teen Advisory Council at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha. I, along with five others, am working toward making a difference at the hospital that I grew up in. We give our perspective on what it’s like to be a patient at the hospital.
We just got the hospital to bring in a children’s exercise bike to replace the larger adult exercise bike that was in the fitness center. We figured a children’s hospital should also have a children’s bike!
I really enjoy being a part of the SAC and the Teen Advisory Council. They allow me to learn leadership skills and to give back.
Recently, I was asked to be in this short video about my experience here at Children’s:
Source: Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha
My Heart Condition Has Shaped My Future.
In the future, I would like to be a paramedic. I had a chance to go on a ride-along with the local fire department and saw that paramedics work hard, give back, and help people. I want to do that.
Being a heart kid, I’ve also learned a whole lot about the human anatomy. I think that is going to help me when I head to college in a few years.
The thing that scares me most about going off to college is that if I do get sick and need emergency surgery, it will be scary to be so far away from my family.
My parents and older and younger sisters are really great. They are supportive, and they watch out for me. It’s going to be hard to be so far away from them, but I want to go to college and get a good education, so that I can give back and continue to live life to the fullest.
Here’s What I’ve Learned.
My condition has taught me that you have to make the most of the life that you’re given. I’ve learned to just keep going and to not take things for granted. I don’t even take my condition for granted.
Being born with a congenital heart defect is just a part of who I am. It’s made me into the person I am, and for that, I’m really grateful.