Americus family brings awareness to congenital heart disease

Americus family brings awareness to congenital heart disease
Carrie West (Source: WALB)
Carrie West (Source: WALB)
Matthew West (Source: WALB)
Matthew West (Source: WALB)
Baby Sawyer at 6 weeks old preparing for surgery. (Source: West Family)
Baby Sawyer at 6 weeks old preparing for surgery. (Source: West Family)
Baby Sawyer in January 2018 after her open heart surgery. (Source: West Family)
Baby Sawyer in January 2018 after her open heart surgery. (Source: West Family)

AMERICUS, GA (WALB) - An Americus family wants others to beware of one of the most common birth defects that their own child was born with.

This month marks Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Month.

The West family said they had no idea that one in 100 babies could be born with CHD.

That is until their own child Sawyer was born.

Sawyer West is a nine-month-old baby who appears happy, playing and laughing like typical babies.

Just a couple of months ago this was not Sawyer's story.

"She has double outlet right ventricle, she has complete unbalanced atrioventricular canal, and she has a ventricular septal defect," said Carrie West, Sawyer's mom.

This means this small baby has a huge hole in her heart. The arteries and veins around it are abnormal making it difficult for blood to flow through.

"I'm anxious a lot, I'm constantly asking is she okay? Is she breathing?" Carrie West added.

The 20-year-old mother had baby Sawyer at 24 weeks. She weighed only two pounds.

After a normal doctor's check-up, Carrie West found out her unborn child had congenital heart disease.

Just a few months before, she lost her son to another illness. Now, it was her daughter.

"It's been very stressful," said Matthew West, Sawyer's dad.

In less than a year, the baby has been in the hospital four times.

She has a feeding tube and takes a hand full of medicines daily.

However, on January 17, things took a turn. Sawyer survived open heart surgery.

"She was so skinny and now she is fat, she's so much bigger now, it's amazing," said Matthew.

"It's emotional to see how far she's come. I mean it's just mind-blowing to me," said Carrie.

Now this small family wants others to be aware of congenital heart disease to possibly save a life.

"You don't have to be a family member or a parent, you can, you know help out not even monetary things you have to do, just tell people about it."

Now baby Sawyer is thriving and won't have to have another surgery any time soon.

The Children's Heart Foundation is trying to raise money to help save more children like Sawyer.

To make a donation or to find out more about the disease, click here.

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