Congenital heart defects are alarmingly common. I know this all too well as my first child was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), essentially a hole in his heart, that required open heart surgery when he was three months old.
It was a terrifying experience, but one made so much easier by the fact that Jack could receive his care and surgery at Children’s Hospital, only a 10-minute drive from our house. Both my and my husband’s family came in to be with us during the surgery and the weeks afterward. They took care of us so that we could focus on being strong for our baby.
I clearly remember several other families of patients who didn’t live in New Orleans. One father drove in from out of town nightly to be with his brand new baby while his wife was recovering in another hospital from a C-section. Another family was parked near the hospital in an RV as a way to save costs during what was to be a very long stay in New Orleans. There was one young mother who had basically lived in the patient family lounge for the past month.
So when I learned that a local family had started a non-profit organization to raise funds and offer support to pediatric heart patients coming to New Orleans for treatment, I wanted to spread the word.
The Henry Aucoin Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization created in honor of Henry Aucoin, son of Susan & Dwayne Aucoin, who was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in utero and required a life-saving surgery just after birth. Henry had his first surgery at just 15 days old and a second one at 8 months old. He has also required several procedures since those surgeries. Walking this road, they also saw how challenging it can be when you are not local to the hospital where your child is being treated.
On February 7th, the first annual Henry’s Hearts Gala will be held at the Deutches Haus in Metairie. From 7:00-11:00 p.m., enjoy an open bar and live music by Snapper & The Fishsticks, eat food from a variety of New Orleans area restaurants, and participate in a raffle and silent auction. Tickets are $50 if purchased before February 1st and $60 at the door. All proceeds will benefit pediatric heart patients coming to New Orleans for treatment.