When Camden was 8 hours old, his nurse took him to the nursery for a bath. She came back into our room and said she needed our permission to take him to the NICU because he was “a little dusky.” He was born right on his due date and he weighed a healthy 8 pounds 5 ounces so we tried to reassure ourselves that it was something that would clear up quickly. Eleven hours later, a cardiologist came into our room and gave us the diagnosis, total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR). All four of his pulmonary veins were coming together into a confluence that went down, around the heart, through the liver, and into the opposite side of the heart. They told me I could hold him before he was transported to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, a few blocks away from where I delivered. Saying goodbye before he was transported to Children’s was the toughest moment of my life, until 4 days later when I said goodbye before surgery.

Camden had his surgical repair when he was 4 days old, and he did beautifully. By the time he was 4 months old, his lungs were completely clear and he was off every medication. On the anniversary of his surgery, Camden took his first steps.

Other than a thin line down his chest, one would never know what Camden went through during those difficult months. Today he is a funny, loving, and strong little boy. We know how lucky we got, and we will never take this precious gift for granted. In order to have Camden with us today, many things needed to line up perfectly. The nurse took him for a bath at the right moment; our surgeon, who was the only one in the area at the time, had just moved to Pittsburgh a few months earlier; the CICU nurses kept a flawless vigil over him as his condition changed; and our pediatrician was fiercely protective. None of this good luck would have made a difference if it weren’t for the money spent on research years ago to identify and repair TAPVR. One web site described TAPVR as being “incompatible with life.” It’s very simple: because of heart research, we have our Camden.

To understand how grateful I am, you would have to hear Camden and his brother laugh together. Every night since the night we brought him home, I have kissed Camden’s heart and said “Thank you for another day.” To everyone who has worked on heart research or helped fund heart research, thank you for every day we have been able to spend with this child. May the research continue so that every heart family can have our happy ending.

— Camden's story was written by his mom and dad