Taylor boy brings hope for hearts

Aidan LaForest is a very special Taylor resident. The 2-year-old son of Jamie and Kristopher LaForest is a strong survivor. His story of triumph began right after his birth on August 18, 2004.

While still at the hospital Aidan’s parents were concerned. Their son was not taking formula and his skin felt “cold.” Because they were new parents, some attendees thought they were being normally overprotective and sent the family home. Three hours later, the lives of this family would be forever changed.

Aidan woke up crying hysterically and not breathing properly. The LaForests realized their baby was very sick. When they took him back to the hospital, Aidan almost didn’t make it and had to be transferred to the nearest neonatal unit, where doctors diagnosed him with a heart defect.

Aidan suffers from Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), one of the most complex and severe cardiac defects – one that, even today, remains one of the most challenging illnesses to manage of all congenital heart defects.

Aidan was later transported to Children’s Hospital of Michigan for expert care. Since then, he has had to undergo three open-heart surgeries to improve his health. HLHS is not correctable, but can be treated with reconstructive heart surgeries or transplantation. 

The surgeries greatly improved his condition and Aidan is now an energetic 2-year-old enjoying life with his parents and younger brother Gabriel. He takes heart medicine daily and his parents are extremely careful to help him avoid infections.

The March of Dimes reports that one of every 125 to 150 children are born with heart defects each year, but there is surprisingly little funding for parent or patient educational services, support and research.

Aidan’s illness took his parents by surprise and, because they had little knowledge of congenital heat defects, they have embarked on a campaign to raise awareness. Working together with her mom, Becky Zavalney of Wyandotte, Mrs. LaForest wrote a cookbook dedicated to Aidan. All of the proceeds from the “Hope for Hearts” cookbook will go to funding for “Hearts for Hope,” a non-profit organization in Metro Detroit dedicated to helping kids like Aidan. Mrs. LaForest gathered the recipes and her mother did the typesetting and secured a sponsor to do the printing.

The cookbook is more than 200 pages and includes an expansive variety of recipes. The cost is a $22 donation that goes directly to research for congenital heart disease. To get a copy, call Jamie LaForest at (313) 292-0363 or send e-mail to Jamie.laforest@wowway.com.