Terry and Elissa Hirsch happily anticipated the arrival of their first child throughout the spring of 1980. But within hours of son Joshua's birth, they found themselves in the "arms of All Children's." On June 3, 1980, these anxious first-time parents met with pediatric cardiologist Dr. James Henry and learned about a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia. It's a combination of four serious heart defects that meant Joshua would need open-heart surgery when he was only two days old.
Joshua faced multiple surgeries, ongoing care and possible limits on his ability to participate in vigorous sports. Caring staff and doctors involved the Hirsch family in every decision. "We are so grateful for the care they gave us as a family," says Terry. As he and Elissa sat in the waiting room on the day of Joshua's surgery, they remember saying to each other-"someday we'd like to be able to give back."
Today Joshua is 28 years old. At 6'3", he's taller than his dad. In high school, Joshua was a shot putter. Today, he's happily married with a home on Florida's East Coast and a position as Director of Development at the Palm Beach School for Autism.
Joshua's success shows that anything is possible-but it took time for his concerned parents to learn that. While their son was making his way through a series of open-heart surgeries as a child, Terry and Elissa co-founded a family support group called "Big Hearts for Little Hearts" here at All Children's Hospital. Terry says, "The important thing about the meetings is being with people who have had the same experience, who understand what you've gone through, who speak the same 'language.' Seeing kids a few years older running around was reassuring. We knew that the future could be good!"
It wasn't long before the Hirsches were called upon to help once again. This time, Terry became a founding member of the Development Council, an advocacy organization formed as a source of awareness, community education, "friend-raising" and fundraising for All Children's Hospital.
The Hirsches' started their "friend-raising" close to home. Not only have Terry, Elissa and their family become Dream Builders, but Elissa's mother Lou Ellen Girard joined as well by including All Children's Hospital in a trust.
"Our experience at All Children's Hospital was life changing," says Terry, "and we can't think of a more worthy organization to support-not just for our family, but for everyone!"
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