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Like many first-time moms, Stephanie Tawata was anxiously navigating the ups and downs of a newborn.
She was grateful that her son, Jase, slept a lot, but he was tiny and slow to gain weight. At times, he seemed to breathe rapidly. Jase was born a month premature, but doctors had given him a clean bill of health, so she tried not to worry.
But at Jase’s 2-month well-baby checkup, his pediatrician heard a whooshing sound in the boy’s heart and noticed a weak pulse. The doctor recommended seeing a cardiologist. A few days later, the family flew from their home in Hilo, Hawaii, to a children’s hospital in Honolulu, where testing revealed Jase was experiencing heart failure and needed to be in intensive care.
“We just thought we were going in for a consultation and didn’t even pack any bags,” Stephanie said.
The Tawatas learned Jase was born with two heart defects.
He had a hole between the lower chambers of his heart, called a ventricular septal defect. This allowed blood to travel between the chambers and into the lung arteries, making the heart and lungs work harder and causing the lungs to become congested. He also had a …
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