Hope and Courage

Six Life Lessons from the Parents of a Child with Congenital Heart Disease

By: Tom and Kat Hansen

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Hope and Courage


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About Hope and Courage by Tom and Kat Hansen

There is no pain that compares to watching your child struggle with a serious disease, no fear like having to face their mortality, and no helplessness like seeing them in danger while being powerless to stop it. Parents of children born with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) know this experience all too well. While their CHD child is going through incredibly challenging medical adversities, the parents, along with the rest of the family, are walking wounded through the trauma. Sadly, many parents suffer through it alone, under-resourced, and without hope.

When our son Harding was diagnosed with CHD during a routine ultrasound, our lives were turned upside down. In the three open-heart surgeries, unforeseen medical complications, and lengthy hospital stays that followed we were challenged to keep our family, marriage, and finances together. We faced the life-defining choice that all CHD families are faced with, to let CHD overwhelm and destroy us, or to face CHD head-on and use our adversity to strengthen our family. Our family chose the latter and fortunately, Harding’s life was saved by revolutionary medical procedures and expert medical care, and we defied the odds and came out the other side hopeful and courageous.

In Hope and Courage, we share our family's hopeful story while weaving in the insights we've gained with other families struggling with their own child’s heart defects (like what to expect from birth to early years, how to work with the medical team, and how to manage stress and anxiety) to help convert the hardships that CHD brings into a more positive life experience. The end of each chapter features pictures from our CHD journey, a Helpful Advice section, and a Reflection Questions section to help the reader reflect on and apply what they've learned.

Our CHD Journey in Pictures: 2014-Present Day