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Toddler with heart defect defying odds to quot;beatquot; condition

Two years ago, Brett Leonard’s parents, Missy and Ron Leonard, did not know whether their son was going to live or die.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Two years ago, Brett Leonard’s parents, Missy and Ron Leonard, did not know whether their son was going to live or die.

Today, Brett is doing great.

Within 24 hours after his birth, Brett’s parents were given shocking news – their son had a type of congenital heart disease called hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS).

HLHS, a combination of heart defects that target the left side of the heart, affects about 2,500 babies a year and is one of the most severe heart defects. At the time, the Leonard’s had three options as to what they could do concerning their child.

The first was compassionate care, which meant that they would leave him to die in a few days; the second was a heart transplant, which there was no guarantee there would be a heart available in time; and the third option was the Norwood Procedure, which is a series of three operations, using Brett’s anatomy to redesign his heart into two chambers ( a normal heart has four chambers).

They were told that if they chose the third option, that he could become unsuitable for the next surgery and become a candidate for a heart transplant. The Leonards decided on the Norwood Procedure.

Brett had his first surgery on Feb. 23, 2000, when he was just five days old. The surgery was a success and after 29 days in the hospital, he was released to go home. Later, when he was three months old, he had a balloon angioplasty done due to some scar tissue in his aorta.

He had his second surgery, which was not as risky and it, too, was successful.

"He is about to have his third surgery, which is the most difficult one," said Tammy Vogelsong, Brett’s aunt. "It will be the reconstruction. In a couple of weeks he will be going in for a heart cath and then he will probably have the surgery in a month."

A website has been built in Brett’s honor and for the other children out there who have this dreadful disease. To learn more about Brett and HLHS, log on to http://www.angelfire.com/oh4/brettsheart.

"Missy’s big thing is to get the word out on this disease, let people know that there is hope for children with this heart defect, said Vogelsong. Brett is living proof."

"We appreciate everything everyone has done, all the prayers, the children at Kingsbury school, who have saved pop tabs for his cause, said Missy. We just can’t thank them enough. Mayor Cleary also proclaimed Feb. 14 as Congenital Heart Defect Day."

Brett will be celebrating his second birthday on Monday, Feb. 18. He is full of energy and life. He’s a blessing to everyone who meets him. "Happy Birthday," Brett.