FORT WAYNE, Ind. (NBC33) – Let me introduce you to an 11 year old with an amazing story. His name is Aiden Eastom. He appears to be an average 11 year-old who loves playing video games, running around, and sports of all kinds. His favorites?
“Baseball and basketball. I love sports all around,” says Aiden.
The thing is, he is not just an average 11 year old. He was born with a congenital heart defect requiring open heart surgery in 2004. But as his sister points out, you couldn’t tell just by looking at him.
"You wouldn't really be able to tell anything was wrong with him,” says older sister Aaliyah. “All my friends, if I say anything about it they're like, "whoa really? Because you can't really tell."
His mother Stephanie Eastom tells how she and her husband Brian first found out of Aiden’s condition.
"We actually didn't know about them at first. We learned because his lips started turning blue and then at the Well Baby check-up I just mentioned that his lips were turning blue and then she really started really listening, getting out the stethoscope and then ordered a bunch of tests for him. It wasn't until after the test results came in that we got the results. It was kind of more of shock and awe."
When Aiden’s father Brian heard the news, he says he was "definitely very nervous but I was hearing from her versus a doctor it was kind of, we weren't really sure what it meant at the time. As a matter of fact, when he went in for his surgery, we were under the impression that after the surgery he was going to be fine. Unfortunately he had two defects."
The news was heartbreaking.
"We were just surprised because we thought after the first surgery that everything was done with and we were just relieved that the first surgery was done,” recalls Stephanie. “Then to learn that he still had this other defect, and that this was pretty much a life-long defect, which is not something you want a child to go through."
That is a big reason why the Eastom family has teamed up with the American Heart Association, which puts on the annual “Northeast Indiana Heart Walk.” A benefit walk to raise funds and awareness in the fight against heart disease and stroke.
"We walk to help raise funds for continued research because we think that it's important so that if Aiden does ever have to have another surgery that continued research can be done so that his surgery can be hopefully less invasive, and not such a dangerous surgery."
More than 1,000 Hoosiers are expected to take part in the 2013 Heart Walk, which is scheduled for Saturday September 14th at Ivy Tech's North Campus, raising more than $150,000 for research and awareness programs.
Through fundraising efforts like these, the Eastom family, and many others affected by heart disease and stroke a positive outlook.
"I have enough faith that we're not going to go through another surgery again, and that the American Heart Association is just going to continue doing more research and having more technology that medication will be enough.”
And as for the family’s goals for Aiden’s future, his mother put it simply, “we feel very confident that he's going to grow up and be a very successful person in life."
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