If you have ever watched the movie Something the Lord Made, you may or may not know that yesterday was the 66th anniversary of the BT Shunt surgery-the first surgical procedure to treat cyanotic heart defects. Back then, they called it Blue Baby Syndrome and it was always fatal. In 1944, this surgery gave babies born with Congenital Heart Disease a chance to live. Sixty-six years later, this same procedure is still widely used to give cyanotic babies a chance to grow enough to receive additional surgical treatments.
The story really is amazing, whether you are personally affected by CHD or not. And, chances are you know someone who is personally affected by CHD….
This anniversary was widely discussed in the CHD community yesterday. It is called Red and Blue Day--a salute to the first mixing of red and blue blood, a chance at life. One man, Steve Catoe, an adult CHD survivor, wrote about this anniversary on his blog Sunday night.
Then, some time in the late hours of Sunday and very early hours of Monday, he passed away...
He entitled this entry, “24 Hours at Johns Hopkins” and quite prophetically, headed the entry with this quote: “Because your whole world can change in 24 hours.” -The Paper (1994)
This post is a must-read; it takes you back to 1944 and puts you right smack into the action. Wonderfully written.
Just a few days earlier, Steve had started writing blog entries that highlighted the players of this historical event, leading up to Red and Blue Day. As I looked back over his last few postings, I was struck by another prophetic post on November 18th entitled, “Run the Race.” He chose to head this one with a Bible verse: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses…let us run with patience the race that is set before us. -Hebrews 12:1
In this entry, Steve talked about his personal race, each mile representing a year of his life, interjecting the race with major CHD historical players. He finished this entry by writing:
“I’m doing OK, had a bump and a bruise about half a mile back, but I just passed the 44th mile mark. I wonder who I will see … and how I will react if it is one of the other runners I have met on this journey. And I wonder how long this race is. The longer the better, and if I can help it, I’m not going to go down on the course. I hope to cross the finish line standing.”
I never had the pleasure of meeting Steve Catoe in person, but I knew him well through his written words. We 'met' several years ago, just a couple of bloggers telling our stories. I was (and am) proud to be a part of his blogroll. He alerted his readers about Eli’s heart surgery, just as he did for many other of his 'Cardiac Kids'. He wrote about Eli's second birthday in another entry. I even participated when he hosted the Patients for a Moment blog hop.
I will truly miss reading his stories and seeing his Twitter and Facebook updates.
The CHD community lost a devoted, educated, and passionately informed advocate on November 28th. He finished the race…..and crossed the finish line standing.
Just as he hoped.
Funky heart, no more....