Amazing Little Hearts helps families of chronically ill children - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Amazing Little Hearts helps families of chronically ill children

WHITEHOUSE, TX (KLTV) - Twenty-nine weeks into their pregnancy, an East Texas couple learned their son would only be born with half a heart.

It was news that frightened Terence and Thedford, and left them begging for help and answers.

Now, they're learning and now want to share what they know with others.

Thomas Thedford will be a year old one month from Tuesday. On the outside he looks like a perfectly healthy baby... but underneath his little shirt are scars--scars left behind from the two heart surgeries he has had... and they won't be his last.

"Heart defects are much more common that people think, and they just have a wide range from little murmurs that don't need to be treated all the way up to conditions like what Thomas has, where he basically has half a heart," says Terence.

Thomas has a string of beads with each bed representing something he has conquered in his 11 months--blood transfusions, x rays, surgeries and therapy sessions. Each also representing a learning experience for his parents Laura and Terence.

"It's a hard concept to wrap your mind around, having one healthy kid and just kind of letting them go, it's difficult to get in the normal routine that is different than everyone else's," Terence explained.

So, they decided to start a chapter of the support group, Amazing Little Hearts in East Texas to bring everyone who feels their family may be different together.

"We kind of hope that we can get this out there and be a support for those other parents who are going through what we're going through," says Laura.

The Thedfords say they're just living, still learning, and always loving the lives they've been given. They want to help others do the same.

If you have a chronically ill child in East Texas, there is a free forum planned just for you.

It's at East Texas Medical Center Pavilion off of Beckham Avenue in Tyler this Thursday at 6 o'clock.

The Thedfords say anyone and everyone is invited.

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