'Very emotional journey': Parents' worst fears laid bare
WHEN first time parents Daniel and Sharleen Mizzi were told their child would be born with congenital heart disease, fear and uncertainty overcame what should have been a very joyous and exciting time in their lives.
Their son Leon was born in 2015 with a number of health issues, including dextrocardia, meaning his heart pointed to the right side of his chest instead of the left.
Doctors also told the nervous parents little Leon was born with pulmonary stenosis, which is the narrowing of the pulmonary artery, and a hole in his heart that can never be repaired.
When their baby boy was just two days old, he underwent his first open heart surgery.
In the first four years of his life, Leon has spent countless days in the hospital and bravely endured a number of procedures, including two more open heart surgeries.
Mrs Mizzi said it has been a very difficult journey.
"It has been a very emotional journey, with lots of hospital visits, procedures and medication," she said.
"But I also think at the same time we have built a pretty strong resilience, which we didn't realise we had until we had to go through something like this."
Throughout their journey, the Springfield Lakes family were given lots of support from the team at HeartKids.
HeartKids is Australia's only national charity solely dedicated to providing lifelong support to children, teens and adults affected by congenital or acquired heart disease throughout their life journey.
This includes in-hospital and community-based support services that help families with financial and psychological support.
"They (HeartKids) were fantastic," Mr Mizzi said.
"They were there when we needed them the most, and also helped so many other families at the hospital who were also going through similar situations."
To give thanks to the organisation that offered them countless support, the Mizzi family will be taking part in the upcoming Two Feet and A Heartbeat charity walk that will be held at Robelle Domain Parklands on Sunday, September 8.
All money raised from the walk will help expand HeartKids' family support programs.
Participants have the option to walk 4km in honour of the four lives lost each week to congenital or acquired heart disease, or to undertake the more challenging 8km walk in recognition of the eight babies who are born with the disease each week.
For more information, or to register, log onto www.heartkids.org.au/twofeet.