Monday, July 23, 2012

KCAT CAN: Fixing a broken heart

Fixing a broken heart
by Maria Kathrina Lopez Yarza 
July 23, 2012

At some points in our lives, we experience heartbreak from the loss of loved ones. The feeling of loneliness, doom, panic, discomfort, and emptiness seem to break our hearts into pieces.

Well, I have good news. Even with heartbreaks, your heart is still whole.

Persons with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) have hearts that are literally broken since birth. Most of the people suffering from CHD are children who have dysfunctional hearts that are endangering their lives.


On April 17, 2007, Arman and Karen Arjona were blessed with a beautiful baby they named Anika. When Anika was eight months old, her doctor heard a heart murmur. After some tests, it was found out that her heart had only one adequately-sized functional pumping chamber. It is a half heart, which is called Single Ventricle Defect — a rare type of CHD.

CHD occurs in five out of 1,000 live births; while Single Ventricle Defect affects five out of 100,00.

“I will never forget the day we found out about her broken heart. She was almost perfect. I never knew there were heart defects of such kind until I had a baby with one. A lot of moms have healthy kids, but why me? Why Anika?” shared Karen.

They had so many plans for Anika when she came to this world, but it turned out to be fate with so many twists and turns. But they did not let their disappointment take over their lives; instead it motivated them to find the best cure for their daughter.

“I am in love with this little girl and I will do anything to keep her. I have learned a lot in this journey, and for that, I am stronger, and I know that as long as there are so many people who love and believe in my child, everything will be fine,” Karen declared with much faith and courage.

The surgery Anika needed the most is currently not yet performed in the country. In January 2011, Anika had her cardiac catheterization at the Philippine Heart Center. Prior to the procedure, she underwent phlebotomy because her CBC results showed that she has an excessive number of red blood cells and the blood in her veins needed to be decreased. The catheterization confirmed that her pulmonary arteries are small and that surgery is possible. However, in order for Anika to survive, she will need a couple of surgeries: Glenn Shunt, Pulmonary Reconstruction, and Fontan Procedure.

With the efforts of her family and the people who supported her fund drive, Anika was operated on on May 6, 2011 at a hospital in New Orleans.

“I am proud of what my daughter has been through, and nothing makes me happier than seeing her happy with her life as with the other kids. Nothing can stop her from doing the things she wants to do,” Karen proudly shares. Anika would often tell her mom, "Mommy, the medicines taste yucky but I know, I know." She understands that she needs to take them patiently for her to get better.

Anika’s fight is far from over because she will need another surgery in the next two to three years. Karen pleads, “I am reaching out to the world because my daughter means a lot to me. Anika is truly a miracle baby. There are no words to describe how strong this little girl is. She is a sweet, happy, loving and smart child. We will fight for her no matter what.”

Visit and support Anika’s fund raising campaign. They are selling items like bracelets, clips, pony tails, and bags all of which have a heart shape design. There are also donation links for your monetary help. All proceeds will help sustain Anika’s medical needs. You get in-touch with her mom, Karen at 09062572874.


Julliana Clariz Gavile or Jopay was born on July 12, 2004 in Suay, Negros Occidental. Jopay is the second among five siblings. She was a healthy child with no signs of any sickness. She was playful and energetic until she was five years old when she was rushed to the hospital due to a very high fever.

A murmur was heard in her heart, she was then diagnosed with CHD. She has a hole in her heart because it did not fully develop from the time she was born.

Jopay was sent to her Aunt Janette who lives in Pasay City so that it would be convenient for Jopay to have her check-ups at the Philippine General Hospital. Jopay has Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), and her heart needs closure through cardiac catheterization. The surgery costs about R100,000; but the family has no means to come up with that big amount of money.

Jopay is now eight years old and is currently in 2nd grade at a public school in Pasay City. Years had passed; still she has not undergone her most needed surgery due to financial constraints. She is getting skinnier; she easily gets tired; and bruise marks are all over her skin.

Her father, Ronnie Boy, recently came here to Manila to look for work and to take care of his daughter. He pleads, “Ako po ay nananawagan sa mga taong may magandang puso para matulungan ang anak ko para sa pagpapagamot at pagpapaopera ng kanyang puso.”

You may contact Jopay’s Aunt Janette Gavile at 0922-8864956 or landline 238-0929. You may direct your donations to: Land Bank of the Philippines - Pasay City Branch. Name: Janette Gavile, Account number: 2216058006.

As time goes by, it is not impossible to put behind you all the pains from heartbreaks and move forward with your life and find love again. But having CHD, without proper and immediate treatments, may progress to something more serious in the long run. Are you heart-broken from ending a relationship or losing someone? There is no need to get depressed; you are still lucky, after all.

Someone asked a funny question on "Ask Kcat" found in my website..
Whoever: Do you even know how heartbreaks from breaking up with someone feels like? Or you just googled it?
Me: I know. Really? Google have feelings? Cool! ;P

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