Learning Disabilities and Possible Brain Injury in Children with Congenital Heart Defects

February 18, 2014
Hosted by Anna Jaworski

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Guest Information

Episode Description

Babies who have had open-heart surgery, especially those with complex, congenital heart defects (CCHDs), are at much greater risk for brain injury or learning disabilities. Because of the heart defects themselves, and because of the complicated circulation involved with CCHDs, infants are more at risk for strokes. Infants who have had strokes often have brain injury due to stroke and those children with brain injuries caused in early childhood are more at risk for learning disabilities. While this sounds very frightening, it doesn’t have to mean that your child’s quality of life will be greatly inferior to a child without a heart defect. Today’s show features a heart mom whose child had an anoxic brain injury (which is fairly uncommon), a pediatric cardiologist and pediatric neurologist from Boston Children’s Hospital, and a special education advocate. These expert Guests share information to help others navigate raising a child with a brain injury and/or learning disability.

Heart to Heart with Anna

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.

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Anna Jaworski

Anna Jaworski

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.

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Episode Directory

March 2014

February 2014

  • 2/25/2014: Special Encore Presentation: Genetics in Congenital Heart Defect Community Listen Now
  • 2/18/2014: Learning Disabilities and Possible Brain Injury in Children with Congenital Heart Defects Listen Now
  • 2/11/2014: Congenital Heart Defect Advocacy Listen Now
  • 2/4/2014: What is Normal Child Development in Children with Complex Congenital Heart Defects? Listen Now

January 2014