Downriver Family Cooks Up $40,000 Donation to Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation to Research Heart Condition that Threatened the Life of Their Newborn Son

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Six-year-old Aidan LaForest of Downriver at 4 PM, April 16, will present a $40,000 check to the chief of cardiovascular surgery at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan to help fund research to study a congenital heart defect that once threatened his life. The donation to Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation will fund pediatric cardiovascular research for the treatment of hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart abnormality that is typically fatal if untreated.

The LaForest family will present a check for $40,000 to the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation to support research into the congenital heart defect that threatened Aidan LaForest's life.

Thanks to the amazing care he received at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Aidan can now lead a relatively normal childhood.

Jamie and Kristopher LaForest had never even heard of hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) until it threatened the life of their newborn son, Aidan, six years ago. The Downriver family has since raised $40,000 for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation by sparking public awareness of the rare congenital defect and generating cook book sales.

At 4 PM, Monday, April 16, the LaForest family will present a $40,000 check to Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation to support the research of Henry L. Walters, MD, chief of cardiovascular surgery at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and Aidan’s surgeon. The event takes place at the cardiology clinic waiting room at the hospital.

HLHS is an abnormality in which the left side of heart (left ventricle, aortic valve and aorta) is severely underdeveloped. An undeveloped heart can't pump efficiently enough to support life, causing a child who has HLHS to get very sick. Without treatment, the child usually dies within the first days of life. Treatment for HLHS today is palliative—there is no cure—and typically involves a series of three surgical procedures.

“Since his birth, Aidan has had three open heart surgeries, three heart cauterizations, and countless emergency room and scheduled visits to the hospital,” Jamie LaForest said. “Thanks to the amazing care he received at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Aidan can now lead a relatively normal childhood. But he’s had to go through a great deal to get to this point. We hope that our gift may play some small role in discovering innovative solutions for HLHS.”

The LaForest donation will enable Dr. Walters to and his Cardiology colleagues at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan to study the effectiveness of a home monitoring program for patients with HLHS and other forms of single ventricle.

Founded in 2003, the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation supports the healthcare needs of children by raising philanthropic support for pediatric medical education, pediatric-focused research and prevention of childhood diseases and injuries. The Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation is recognized as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization by the Internal Revenue Service and is governed by a 23-member board of directors.

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Lori Bahnmueller
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