Submitted by Jodi Lemacks
Mother’s Day is not just about getting Mom the perfect present; it’s about celebrating the relationship between mothers and their children. One mother recently shared with us an update on her son who has lived with a chronic heart disease his entire young life.
Joshua Lemacks, now age 11, has always been a member of Mended Little Hearts because of his mom, Jodi, but he has now become an active member in his own right. These days, Joshua does not hesitate to speak about his heart defect, called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, when he feels like it can help others, especially if it will help other kids like him.
In fact, this February, for the first time, Joshua went to Washington, D.C. to talk to Congress about the need for funding for research and surveillance of congenital heart disease as part of the Legislative Conference hosted by the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association. Joshua explained his heart defect to congressional staffers by stating that he “lost his left ventricle,” and letting them know that research is important to help him live a long and healthy life.
Joshua also participated in Mended Little Hearts’ Rock Your Scar Campaign, which was geared mostly towards tweens like him and teens to make them feel good about themselves even though they might be “different” from other kids because of their congenital heart disease. Joshua took a picture with his mom holding a Rock Your Scar sign. He wants kids with heart defects to know that there are other kids out there just like them and that they all are very brave.
When people see Joshua, they usually do not realize that he is any different from any other 11-year old. Joshua is very active, playing baseball, golf and even basketball. Parents of kids with chronic heart disease worry about their kids being hurt during sports, but they can feel more confident with medical ID—and there are even sports bands. Mended Little Hearts promotes exercise for chronic heart disease kids when advised by their cardiologist, and having medical ID can give parents peace of mind. Sometimes Joshua gets winded faster than other kids, but he likes to stay busy. Joshua will graduate from elementary school this June, and he is very excited about heading to middle school in the fall.
There still are no long-term answers for Joshua’s condition, but that doesn’t slow him down. Joshua is an inspiration to so many, but especially to his mom. He is the reason his mom feels like her job is so important, and he motivates her to help Mended Little Hearts reach even more families.
Mended Little Hearts is an organization dedicated to helping mothers of the littlest heart patients of all. With medical IDs, mothers of children with chronic heart diseases like Joshua can feel more secure knowing that they will receive proper care in an emergency.