Watching 5-year-old Jonathan Broussard and sister Finley play, you'd never know Jonathan was born with a life-threatening heart defect. It showed up on ultrasound while he was still in the womb. It was a traumatic day for his parents. Rikki, his mother, was mortified.
"I remember just breaking down, crying in maternal fetal room with the ultrasound," she said.
At just three months old, Jonathan underwent a nearly 10-hour operation to fix a problem called Blue Baby Syndrome. It's an umbrella term for defects that keep the heart from pumping enough oxygenated blood to the body, which can turn the body blue.
He was in the hospital for 13 days. Jared, his dad, recalled what a trying time it was.
"When you go through something like this, it's a very scary, overwhelming experience," he explained.
Like many parents of kids born with heart defects, Jared went to the internet to learn more about Jonathan's heart condition.
"From a medical standpoint, there was tons of information from the hospitals, but it was very hard to find any resource on the web to connect families," he added.
That's when Broussard decided to create a website called Heartwaves.org.
"What I wanted Heartwave to be is the hub for congenital heart defects. So, if you want information on a certain condition, you can get it. But at the same time, if you want to connect with other families that are going through similar circumstances, you can also find it there," Jared said.
Parents who go to heartwaves.org can express themselves freely. They'll also find insights on rare congenital heart defects from pediatric heart specialists and researchers. Most importantly, they'll discover they're not alone.
"There was a girl I even played soccer with at LSU who lives in Texas now and her daughter has a congenital heart defect. So, we've reconnected through Heartwaves and now she looks at Jonathan to see where her daughter's going to be," Rikki said.
Today, Jonathan is proof congenital heart defects are not a death sentence. For him, they were just a bumpy start to what promises to be a long and healthy life.
Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.