Full of Heart: Local Boy's Heart Problems Lead to National Movement

When you think of Valentine's Day, you think of hearts, right? This Valentine's Day, you may think about a special little boy too. Two-year-old Gabriel Ellinghouse is a survivor, only half his heart works, but he's still an active little boy. Now, his mom's active in raising awareness and she wants you to think of him this Valentine's Day.

Gabriel's mom, Claire Ellinghouse says, "It's a miracle, it's a miracle of God, that's how I describe it." It's a miracle that little her son, Gabriel is alive today. At just two and a half years old, Gabriel's had three open heart surgeries, one closed heart operation, and nine heart catheterizations. All because he was born with a rare condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. "The entire left side of his heart was too small too function when he was born. The left atrium and left ventricle were really small," Ellinghouse says. Doctors had to basically rewire his heart, so the right side would be able to do the work the left side couldn't, and he almost didn't make it. Ellinghouse says, "A little over a year ago, last Christmas, Gabriel couldn't talk, he used sign language, he couldn't walk,

Now he's doing much better, and doing things that other two year olds do. It's inspired Ellinghouse to want to help other children, all across the country. "So many children who are born with birth defects don't make it," Ellinghouse says. "It's the number one cause of, it's so hard to say, it's the number one cause of death due to birth defects." So she's joined a nationwide coalition to make Valentine's Day, National Congenital Heart Defect day. She's also leading the way here at home, getting Governor Holden to commemorate the day in Missouri for two straight years. It's all about awareness, and it's all about kids, like Gabriel. "If these are caught right away so many of the kids who died don't ha

Governor Holden's signing that proclamation next month. As for Gabriel, he's doing okay now, but unless there's some kind of medical breakthrough, his doctors don't think his heart will be strong enough to let him live past twenty. You can find out more about he congenital heart defects, and what's being done about them, by going to www.tchin.org.