Born four months early my heart wasn’t fully developed. Weighing one pound 3 ounces at 3 ½ weeks old I underwent open heart surgery with no anesthesia. The surgical scars along my rib cage and across my upper back to my chest mark my beginnings and chart my growth. I cherish the artfully crafted scars (best tattoo ever) my surgeon, a medical pioneer and beautiful woman, adorned me with. To this day I am grateful for my surgical and neonatal team who were willing to take a leap of faith in providing me with the life-saving surgery.
The consistent sounds of cardiac monitors and intricate medical equipment may not be music to most ears but to mine they represent a song of hope.
At 21 years of age I returned as to volunteer in the same Neonatal ICU I was a patient. Serving as a volunteer I have connected with various staff members, patients, and families. Reconnecting with NICU staff that cared for me as a patient and meeting my cardiac surgeon has been a healing experience. My service has brought to my attention that providing a means of resource support, connectivity, and empowerment to the NICU Community on a global level is drastically needed in order to intervene & create sustainable outcomes in preventing Neonatal fatalities world-wide. The ability to provide access to stable long-lasting resource support for NICU parents so that an empowering & healing experience along their NICU journey may become achievable is needed & viable.
Serving on the neonatal advisory board council member (2013-2015) helped develop my professional skill set and understanding of the dynamic community involved in Neonatal Care. Working on a variety of fundraising and research proposals, family and patient safety projects, and witnessing the stories of the NICU staff, patients, and families has inspired me to start-up a non-profit “The Neonatal Womb Foundation” with my mom. It is my continuing journey & passion for the NICU community that fuels my belief in providing diverse clinical, technological, spiritual, community, material, & medical aid support resources to NICU communities globally.
In addition to my service in NICU this past March I began a volunteer shadow in cardiothoracic surgical medicine. The journey of self-healing and learning from the diverse and dynamic community involved in both Neonatal and Cardiac Care Units has deeply influenced my interest for a career as a cardiac surgeon and has validated my desire to work in the field of global health and humanitarian aid where I aspire to help provide life-saving heart surgeries like the one that kept me alive and here today.
A Shout-Out this February to heart surgery Survivors, Caregivers and the Cardiac Support Resource community at large!
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