Families of Young Heart Surgery Patients Get Christmas Gifts at Hospital

Kori Freeman’s 6-week-old daughter was recovering from heart surgery performed on Christmas Eve.

By Karen Franklin and Betty Yu
|  Tuesday, Dec 25, 2012  |  Updated 5:51 PM EDT
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While most people celebrated the holidays at home, a handful of babies were recovering from heart surgery Christmas Day at Joe DiMaggio Children s hospital. Mother Amena Khan, whose daughter has Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, received an automatic stroller Tuesday.

While most people celebrated the holidays at home, a handful of babies were recovering from heart surgery Christmas Day at Joe DiMaggio Children s hospital. Mother Amena Khan, whose daughter has Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, received an automatic stroller Tuesday.

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While most people celebrated the holidays at home, a handful of babies were recovering from heart surgery Christmas Day at Joe DiMaggio Children’s hospital.

The babies and their families were greeted by gifts from the Angel’s Pediatric Heart House. Mother Amena Khan, whose daughter has Hypoplastic left heart syndrome, received an automatic stroller Tuesday.

“It’s a great Christmas,” she said. “I’m very thankful for all the support we’re getting.”

She told NBC 6 South Florida that the hardest part of the holidays is the fact that her 17-month-old is sedated.

Kori Freeman’s 6-week-old daughter was recovering from heart surgery performed on Christmas Eve, but she said she’s had an amazing Christmas.

“It’s amazing what people do for other people,” she said. “I can’t even explain it.”

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Angel’s Pediatric Heart House has been delivering Christmas gifts since 2005. Founder Sonia Perez, who created the company in memory of her late husband, said many people don’t realize how many families are spending the holidays in the hospital.

“During the holidays, they’re here with their children in the hospital, and bringing them some cheer, letting them know that there’s others thinking about them, that’s what it’s all about,” she said. “Just bringing smiles to their faces.”

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Dr. Steve Bibevski agreed. He spoke about the emotional stress put on families when health complications arise.

“It’s really all about the families,” he said. “When we do these complex surgeries, they’re very often thrust upon their family members. When these babies are born around the times of the holiday, it’s especially hard for them.”

Bibevski said he requets yearly Christmas cards from the families.

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