June 11 is one day Kara Jaehnert will never forget. At 26 weeks’ pregnant, she and her husband, Ryan, learned their baby boy had tricuspid atresia — a congenital heart defect that prevents blood from flowing through the heart to the lungs to pick up oxygen.
As difficult as the diagnosis was, the Jaehnerts had time to prepare for the journey ahead with the cardiology team at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota guiding them every step of the way.
On Sept. 21, their son, Roland, was born at The Mother Baby Center at Abbott Northwestern and Children’s Minnesota. Kara held Roland against her chest for a few moments before he was whisked away for the special care and attention he needed. That first moment, though, between mother and son was so special.
Two days later, Roland underwent his first of three life-saving surgeries. It’s hard to imagine watching your baby, so tiny and vulnerable, recover from open heart surgery. But Kara and Ryan were strong. And they had support, thanks to the amazing generosity of our community.
Chaplains prayed with them. Child life specialists explained what was happening to Roland’s big sister, at a level she could understand. The Ronald McDonald House provided a temporary home just one floor away from their sweet boy.
When the Jaehnerts left Children’s Minnesota after Roland’s first stay, Kara and Ryan cried. It felt like leaving family.
“If you’re going to donate to any cause, this is the one to donate to… miracles happen every day at Children’s, and it’s because of you and your generosity,” Kara said. “I just can’t thank people enough.”
At Children’s Minnesota, especially during Heart Health Month, we are so grateful for those who give so we can provide life-saving care to little ones like Roland and much-needed support for their families.
Please consider making a gift in honor of all our heart patients today.
Brady Gervais is an annual giving officer in the foundation at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.