How Parents Relationships are Affected by Having a Child with a Congenital Heart Defect
January 21, 2014
Hosted by Anna Jaworski
According to the American Psychological Association “Marriage and divorce are both common experiences. In Western cultures, more than 90% of people marry by age 50. Healthy marriages are good for couples’ mental and physical health. They are also good for children; growing up in a happy home protects children from mental, physical, educational and social problems. However, about 40-50% of married couples in the United States divorce.” I scoured the Internet for statistics on families of children with congenital heart defects and was only able to find one small study. That study from 1979-1980 Pediatric Cardiology looked at 40 families of children with tetralogy of Fallot, and they concluded that, “stress due to reparable tetralogy of Fallot appears to be well tolerated in the family and is associated with no more family instability or marriage dissolution than a childhood appendectomy.” Each of our Guests today is the parent of a child with a CHD. Our Guests today are Brenda Vignaroli, Leah Anne Lowrey and Frank Jaworski. They will tell us about what kind of relationships they are in and how having a child with a congenital heart defect has affected those relationships..
Heart to Heart with Anna
Archives Available on VoiceAmerica Health and Wellness Channel
Heart to Heart with Anna is a program specifically for the congenital heart defect or CHD community. Our show will address issues of concern to the CHD community. Topics revolve around some of the special needs of the child born with a CHD, how to become an advocate for the CHD child, parent and CHD survivor and what it means to be part of the CHD community. The show addresses issues of concern to the CHD community. Members of the CHD community will serve as Guests to share stories to encourage others. While the topics will be especially pertinent to the CHD community, they also have a broader appeal to any community dealing with chronic illness since many of our topics are faced by other communities dealing with chronic illnesses.
Anna Jaworski is the mother of a son with a severe congenital heart defect (CHD). Alex endured two open-heart surgeries in his first year of life. His surgeon told parents Anna and Frank that Alex was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome a.k.a. HLHS. Alex underwent a revision of his last surgery at age 17 and had a Maze Procedure to stave off future arrhythmias.
With a lack of information for parents, Anna decided to write a book about HLHS and start a publishing company for the CHD community. She also helped start a support group for CHD parents in Central Texas and became a public speaker. Joey, Anna’s heart-healthy son, inspired her to write a second book, My Brother Needs an Operation. After a while, Anna started sharing stories with other CHD parents to educate and inspire them. Encouraged by these parents, Anna then became the editor of two books, The Heart of a Mother and The Heart of a Father. The books provide hope, encouragement, and support to the CHD community.
Anna has been a public speaker for many CHD events. She is a Distinguished Toastmaster, earning the highest level of communication and leadership awards Toastmasters offers. Anna has given speeches all over North America.
With a B.A. in speech pathology and MEd in curriculum and instruction, Anna helped Alex after he suffered a stroke and vocal cord paralysis following his second surgery. She also homeschooled her two sons. Anna still loves to teach and share stories with others.