Happy Holidays!

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We at Hearts Unite the Globe and especially Heart to Heart with Anna wish you all the happiest of holidays!

We have put together a Year-End Letter to help you all see some of the amazing things that have happened this year. That letter took many hours to compile. Special thanks to Lisa Johnson and Nancy Jensen for their artwork, formatting experience/expertise and proofreading help. Also special thanks to Hearts Unite the Globe Board Members Laura Redfern and Laura Schleicher for their advice and editing assistance with this project.

Hearts Unite the Globe has two major projects right now. The one that most people know about is the production and hosting of podcasts for the congenital heart defect and bereaved communities in the forms of Heart to Heart With Anna, Heart to Heart With Michael and Heart to Heart with Nicole and David. In our Year End Letter we mentioned what happened this year with these projects and acknowledged some of the many people who helped us bring about Heart to Heart with Anna’s Seasons 9 and 10, as well as her Spotlight on Cardiac Athletes! We also mentioned how Heart to Heart with Michael is concluding its first season for the bereaved community. Finally we mentioned how Heart to Heart with Nicole and David created four special presentations — episodes by adults with congenital heart defects for adults with congenital heart defects.

To make the letter manageable, we decided to thank our Guests and some of our Volunteers en masse; however, I feel it’s very important to give credit where credit is due. Therefore, in this blog it is my pleasure to recognize our Guests, Guest Hosts and Volunteers.

The theme for Season 9 of Heart to Heart with Anna was Advancements in Pediatric Cardiology and episode 1 featured Heart Mom, Jennifer Gutman sharing her experience with her HLHS child receiving stem cells at Mayo Clinic. Episodes 2 and 3 featured veteran nurse Deena Barber giving us a concise perspective on the development of pediatric cardiology as a field. Dr. Fred Wu also starred in consecutive episodes (4 and 5) informing us about the significance of the liver in Fontan patients. Dr. Wu was also instrumental in helping us locate a French-speaking expert after a request for the information to be provided in French by a Listener. Heart Mom, Isabelle Allain was the Guest Host for Heart to Heart with Anna’s first French program which featured Parisian pediatric cardiologist Dr. Magalie Ladouceur. Dr. Gil Wernovsky was then featured in a double episode (6 and 7) describing his innovative design of a roadmap to success for those born with complex CHDs. Dr. Wilson Lam, returned to the program to give us an update on advancements in electrophysiology in Episode 8.  Susan Romanesko and Michelle Steltzer were a dynamic mother-daughter duo (respectively) sharing a historical perspective on what it was like to be the mother and sister to Greg, born with a single ventricle heart in the 1970s and how Greg’s condition affected Michelle’s career choice. Dr. Peter Ermis was the featured Guest in Episode #10 about family planning for CHD Heart Warriors. Many advancements have been made in understanding the psychology of living with a CHD and Dr. Adrienne Kovacs was the featured Guest for Episode 11. World-renown pediatric cardiology heart surgeon Dr. Edward Bove was the Guest for Episode 12 about Advancements in Treatments for HLHS Heart Warriors and bringing the season full circle, we ended Season 9 with Episode 13 featuring Dr. Timothy Nelson sharing Advancements in Stem Cell Therapies and Research for HLHS Warriors. To our delight, we were able to provide a bonus episode with Dr. Wayne Franklin who shared information about Advancements in Pulmonary Hypertension — an episode which has improved the quality of life for one of our Volunteers (see Year-End Letter for more on that!)

Those of you who are Harry Potter fans will understand our next mini-season — we called it Nine and Three Quarters (those of you who are not fans — this is the name of the train platform which takes students to Hogwarts). We had a number of Guest Hosts including: Carol Raimondi (interviewing her friend Rosalyn Rivera about being a Heart Warrior and a nurse), Rita Scoggins (interviewing Laura Ryan about raising children as a Heart Warrior) and Laura Ryan (interviewing her friend Kathy Ware about early-onset menopause for Heart Warriors). Anna interviewed long-time friend, Yarrow Gillis about the emotional toll of living with CHDs. Carol Raimondi completed the mini-season by interviewing Frank Lynn and Terese Quarino about strokes and TIAs amongst Heart Warriors.

Season 10 focused on Education for Heart Warriors and featured the following Guests: Episode 1 – Jennifer Weiner (physical education), Episode 2 – Andrea Quirk and Chelle McIntyre-Brewer (education for heart warriors with parents in the military), Episode 3 – Erin Ayscue (special needs homeschooling), Episode 4 – Yarrow Gillis (continuing education), Episode 5 – Vicki Lucas (special education transitions), Episode 6 – Katina Robalino (learning about the heart), Episode 7 – Chelle McIntyre-Brewer (homeschooling and advocacy), Episode 8 – Marie O’Donnell (special education), Episode 9 – Megan Tones (education in Australia), Episode 10 – Kathy Keller (special education transition to adulthood), Episode 11 – Lisa O’Connor (special education accommodations and IEPs), Episode 12 – Marta Montero (education for parents of Heart Warriors) and Episode 13 – Roxanne Montalvo-Tsai (educating twin Heart Warrior toddlers) and bonus episode – Jessica Gutierrez-Rodriguez (discovering Heart Warriors’ hidden talents).

Many of you have heard the Cardiac Athlete™ Spotlight Series that will conclude at the end of December 2017. For the first time ever, we’ve had a professional football player on the program and an Olympian! Many thanks to our amazing Guests: Tim Howard, Lisa Johnson, Benjamin Lee, Barry Stone, Richard Gardner, Tracie Happel, Green Bay Packer Michael Montgomery, Martin BradyAimee OsinskiNeil CollinsRoger PotterGraeme SuttonEd RucciGreg Bassett, Beth Greenaway and Olympian Paul Wylie.

There are so many Volunteers helping to make HUG what it is. We recognized many of them in the Year-End Letter, but I’d also like to thank: Lars Andrews, Victoria Baerg, Christopher Freeman, Christina Gurnham, Diane Kowalik, Leah Lowrey, Vicki Lucas, Lorraine McDaniels, Eileen Perlman, Angela Roberts, Megan Tones, Priscilla Watts, MaryAnn Zima and all other members of the CHD community who have been supportive in word or deed of Hearts Unite the Globe’s mission to bring resources to the congenital heart defect community. If you’d like to make a donation to Hearts Unite the Globe to keep our podcasts free of charge to the CHD community, please visit our website.