February marks American Heart Month, a time when health organizations encourage individuals to make lifestyle changes for themselves and their families to improve heart health and stave off heart disease later in life.
Often left out of the conversation about heart health are the children born with heart defects and the families who care for them. Congenital (“existing at birth”) defects require extensive resources in the hospital, and may call for a lifetime of services to manage.
Isabella, one of the children featured in the Foundation’s photograph project, lives with Down syndrome and developmental delays. She had open-heart surgery to correct a heart defect when she was 6 months old, and may need another surgery in her teen years.
Some of the services she and her mother, April, rely on are speech, occupational, physical, and horse riding therapy; specialty care in cardiology, endocrinology, nutrition, genetics, audiology, ENT, and optometry; and a specialized educational plan.
See photos of a day in Isabella’s life by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice.