Friday, May 21, 2010

My Thoughts on Katherine Heigl's Interview

"Revealed to be a congenital heart defect, it was repaired with open heart surgery before the baby girl left Korea.  “Her heart is 100 percent fine now. She has a scar, so she won’t be wearing bikinis, which is fine by us,” the Killers actress, 31, tells Harper’s Bazaar in their June cover story." ~Harper's Bazaar

As a parent to a child who has had three open heart surgeries, they are not simple surgeries where one goes in and comes out the same day. It’s major surgery with days, even weeks in the hospital for recovery. They break their sternum, place drainage tubes in their chest cavities and bellies. It’s not simple and we’re told from the start that surgery doesn’t “fix” these kids.

Maybe her daughter was lucky enough to have something less invasive done to correct her condition. Either way, it’s surgery and all surgery has risks involved.  If so, I'm happy for them.  Watching your child being wheeled away with the REAL possibility that you may never see them again is how most of us with children born with CHDs have experienced heart surgery.  It is frightening for adults to have open heart surgery, imagine being a child. 

I have read the article and all of the comments pertaining to this article. Some are very insightful, while others are just plain rude and show just how far those of us who are fighting for CHD Awareness need to go before "everyone" understands what they are. 

Choosing not to allow your child to wear a bikini is fine by me, my kids don’t wear “bikinis”.  Our CHD child wore her first two piece bathing suit last year.  It was not a bikini and covered just about as much as a one piece, but she was so proud of herself.  I would never tell her she can't show any of her scars.  She has more than one, so one piece or not, they are gonna show at some point.  Why not empower her to be proud of all that she's been through and fought so hard to get through?  She is an inspiration to everyone who knows her.  She SHOULD be proud.

By Ms. Heigl saying what she said, in the context and subject matter in which she said it, is why so many people are upset by the comment. If she was joking, it isn’t clearly stated for those who took it as a jab. It’s hard to convey spoken words into text, so it’s possible she meant it as a joke. In my opinion, she said something rather ignorant and it doesn’t change my opinion about her. I’m still not a fan.

She could really help the CHD community by educating herself and becoming an advocate for kids like Naleigh.  If she really wants to make an impact, she should educate herself first and use her influence, fame, and fortune to help many families raise CHD awareness, fund research, and help educate the public about these conditions. 

Congenital Heart Defects ARE a lifelong condition. Just as much as Down Syndrome and Autism. There are daily medications, routine heart exams, special instructions for caregivers and school teachers, medic alert bracelets, physical therapy, and sometimes learning disabilities. It’s hard enough to raise healthy kids with great self esteem and even harder doing the same thing with a child who had to start their life off with a life threatening illness/birth defect. 

My family is blessed to have had our CHD child make it through all of her surgeries up to this point.  So many have lost their battle.  We know how lucky we are to have her here with us and we would do anything to ensure that she has the best life possible.  I know that those who have lost their little ones to CHDs would love the opportunity to teach their child to be proud of their scars and would give anything to give them the chance to show off their badges of honor. 

I hope Ms. Heigl appreciates what she has and will do the right thing, by helping her daughter, by learning more about life with a child born with heart defects.


  1. As a mother, I am in awe of your strength and courage to be an advocate for your children. If you don't do it, who will?

    This is an amazing blog. I'm not sure what else to say right now. You have touched my heart.