Congenital heart defects are the most common defects in newborns, yet there is no cure. That’s one reason many people will gather in Nashville this weekend for the 2nd Annual Nashville Congenital Heart Walk.
Misty Sharpe is the driving force behind the walk and for good reason. Not only is she a Nurse Case Manager on the Pediatric Cardiology floor at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, but she also has Congenital Heart Disease.
“I've actually had four heart surgeries, my first being at 7 days old,” said Sharpe.
The other three followed all before her fifth birthday.
She doesn’t remember much from her time in the hospital and her mother only took a few pictures for a very poignant reason.
“She said because I was so afraid you were going to die - that I didn't want to remember you that way.”
And that is the heart stopping fear so many families experience.
“I think people don't realize that it is the #1 birth defect in the world,” explains Sharpe.
Meaning it can hit families more than once.
“He had a megawatt smile,” said Sharpe, speaking of her nephew, Drew. He was also born with a heart defect. Despite surgeries and looking “like the picture of health,” at 20 years old he collapsed and died.
“It was a humongous shock to our family to see someone we thought was doing just fine and one day he wasn't.”
And that's one reason Sharpe was driven to bring a Congenital Heart Walk to Nashville. This Saturday people are welcome to join the effort at Edwin Warner Park. More details can be found here:
Last year, in the inaugural year, more than 50-thousand dollars was raised. The money supports research, provides grant funding and resources for families. Each step is about celebrating, remembering and pushing forward.
Congenital Heart Disease is certainly something you never beat, it's not something you're ever cured of,” said Sharpe.