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Lambertville “Heart Warriors” share 2-year old’s battle with Congenital Heart Disease

February marks American Heart Month but for many families like the Yoakam’s heart disease is a year-round battle.
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 1:34 PM EST
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LAMBERTVILLE, Mich. (WTVG) - The Yoakam household in Lambertville is home to warriors -- heart warriors.

“Our son’s life is on the line,” said Laci Yoakam. “He’s great today but tomorrow is never given for our son and for anyone with congenital heart disease.”

Two-year-old Rory was born with what the Yoakam’s like to call a “special heart.” In the womb, doctors discovered the pulmonary valve of his heart completely blocked, leaving the way blood is pumped to his lungs restricted. The Yoakam’s were unsure if Rory would survive.

“Looking back at this just brings back the idea that you don’t know that this might not be something I can do forever,” said Aaron Yoakam. “When we would have to let him go to go to a procedure, you just have to think this might be the last time I get to hold my son, and you just have to be OK with that.”

At birth, Rory was under the care of the medical staff at the University of Michigan Hospital...
At birth, Rory was under the care of the medical staff at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.(Jack Bassett)

Thanks to two unique procedures, Rory is now doing well. Laci and Aaron Yoakam say they were told by doctors that Rory is the “best-case scenario” for others suffering from his condition.

“You know we could have easily just walked away, and we could have said we’re lucky, you know, and live our normal life, but that’s not us,” said Laci Yoakam.

Since Rory’s birth, the southeast Michigan family’s mission is bringing awareness to Congenital Heart Disease, an uncurable life-long condition and occurs in 1 out of every 110 births in America.

“This is the number one birth defect,” said Laci Yoakam. “There are so many people out there that are living life with congenital heart disease or know someone living with CHD. That’s a lot of people here in Toledo alone.”

The Yoakams spend their time sharing stories of those affected by the disease across the country. They hope their efforts can lead to more research, less invasive heart operations, and a wide-reaching spread of love and support to the “hearts” needing it most.

2 -year old Rory enjoys playtime with his 5-year old sister Cora. Parents Aaron and Laci Yoakam...
2 -year old Rory enjoys playtime with his 5-year old sister Cora. Parents Aaron and Laci Yoakam explain CHD is a disease that requires the support of all family members.(Jack Bassett)

“We just want to improve outcomes across the board for anyone with Congenital Heart Disease,” said Aaron Yoakam. We partner with Conquering CHD Ohio, with Conquering CHD as an organization we really feel their mission and its part of our mission. We want to support the families not just by wearing red and not just in February, because we want to eliminate these things.”

You can join the fight against CHD and find more information about Congenital Heart Disease, on Conquering CHD Ohio’s website.

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