By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Region – Personal reasons compel Dolores Edgren of Southborough to support the Adult Congenital Heart Association and Children’s Heart Foundation, which are the benefiting charities of the Congenial Heart Walk – Boston. Her daughter, Kim Edgren now of North Grafton, is a congenital heart defect (CHD) survivor and chair of the walk since its inception in 2012.
“Kim was born cyanotic,” Dolores noted. “Her lips and fingernails were blue, which was from lack of oxygen. The obstetrician said she would be lucky to live for 12 hours. I was blindsided by it because at that time they didn’t have the wonderful tests they have today to figure out there is something wrong.”
As captain of Team Wee Care for Kimmie, Dolores is organizing the second annual kickoff celebration for the Congenital Heart Walk – Boston, scheduled for Saturday, April 9, from 7 p.m. to midnight, at DoubleTree by Hilton in Westborough. She’s proud of her daughter’s ongoing accomplishments.
“Kim has always been a fighter,” Dolores said. “She’s not only the walk chairperson for the fifth year, she also lobbies for heart funding in Washington, D.C. She lives a very active life. As a mother, I worry about her constantly because I think she does too much.”
At 13 months, Kim underwent palliative surgery, which was deemed unsuccessful after six weeks. She had a second palliative surgery at 22 months.
“The first two years were so stressful because she was not growing,” Dolores shared. “She was only 13 pounds at 1 year of age. I constantly tried to get nourishment into her. We also gave her extra supplements around the clock, trying to get her to thrive.”
At age 9, Kim underwent surgery to insert a new valve and restructure her heart.
“She went into surgery with a 50-50 chance of surviving,” Dolores recalled. “We knew that as parents if we didn’t give her a chance of having the surgery, she was not going to live without it.”
That conduit has been replaced three times. The family anticipates future procedures and understands the importance of treatment into adulthood. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, “CHDs are the most common types of birth defects, and babies born with these conditions are living longer and healthier lives.”
A few years ago, Kim attended a conference and learned about the Congenital Heart Walk, a national fundraiser that began in several cities in 2010. In 2012, she started volunteering as the Boston walk’s chair. Dolores has participated each year as captain of the team named in her daughter’s honor.
“I enjoy watching Kim being able to do this year after year,” Dolores said. “My biggest joy is raising funds for this wonderful cause. We have reaped the benefits of research and I want to see more and more research to make it easier for everyone who’s afflicted with this problem.”
Offering family-friendly, one- and two-mile routes around Boston Common, the fifth annual walk will be held Saturday, April 23, at 11 a.m.
The upcoming kickoff celebration in Westborough will feature two guest speakers: Dr. Michael Fahey, chief of pediatric cardiology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Dr. Alexander R. Opotowsky, a staff member of the Boston Adult Congenital Heart and Pulmonary Hypertension service at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital.
The kickoff will be balanced with fun activities including a deejay, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, drinks, chance tickets and a silent auction. Tickets are $75 each; table for 10 is $750. For tickets and information, contact Dolores at 617-694-5370 or [email protected].
Donations to Wee Care for Kimmie can be made online at events.congenitalheartwalk.org/goto/teamweecare. For more information about the Congenital Heart Walk – Boston, visit events.congenitalheartwalk.org/boston.