As Holt’s China team works to find families for a growing number of children with complex heart disease, a partnership develops with Little Hearts Medical — a groundbreaking, U.S.-based organization of cardiac surgeons, cardiologists and adoptive families who are working to ensure children receive the medical interventions they need early on, and while still in China.
In June 2014, when hopeful adoptive parents Heather and Vince Preston received a referral from Holt’s China program, they were prepared for a child with a heart condition. They had expressed their openness to this special need when applying, and they knew the need was great.
But neither of them were medical doctors. And they knew that “heart condition” could mean a broad spectrum of things — from a minor hole that would close on its own to a chronic, life-threatening disease that would require round-the-clock care. Before accepting the referral, they needed more information. And they needed advice from someone experienced — someone who knew what she was talking about. Someone like Andrea.
But as Heather soon discovered, there’s no one quite “like” Andrea.
“At the time, I was excited to speak with her,” Heather says of Andrea, who often mentors Holt families who are considering an adoption of a child with complex heart disease (CHD). “But I did not realize how valuable this conversation would be.”
A mother of six with five children adopted through Holt — four of whom have CHD — Andrea also serves as executive director of Little Hearts Medical, an organization that brings life-saving cardiac care to orphaned children and children from poor families in China. Needless to say, she’s a busy woman. But not too busy to take Heather’s call.
While the Prestons barreled down the highway en route to a family camping trip, Andrea sat on the phone with Heather for two straight hours — answering their questions, from a parent’s perspective, about the referral they received from Holt. Although the child’s medical file had already been assessed by a pediatric cardiologist, the information contained a lot of medical jargon and confusing information. “Throughout the two-hour drive, Andrea talked with us about [our soon-to-be son] Max’s particular flavor of CHD based upon the file review,” Heather says. Continue reading “The Heart Warriors”