In our hearts and minds, it feels like it was just yesterday that we were blessed with the birth of our first born son, Grant Michael Goughnour. It is hard to believe that it was almost 10 years ago.
It was a hot and humid Monday in Memphis in August 2002 when Grant was born. After 9 months of excitement, planning, and anticipation, we were ready to meet our son. He was born with astonishing brown eyes, a full head of hair, and weighed a vigorous 9 pounds 5 ounces. He had excellent coloring and a great set of lungs that he used to announce to the world he was here. One of the first memories we have of Grant is when he kept curling his toes and making it difficult for the nurse to make a copy of his footprints on paper. We ended up with multiple copies of footprints and none of them show 10 distinct toes.
Like any proud first-time parents, we were nervous about our newborn baby and the way our lives were changing. We had read the popular "What to Expect" books and did as much planning as we could before his birth. We always knew how precious life was but we never considered that we would have to face its fragility with one of our own children. Along with the brown eyes, black hair, and a sweet disposition, Grant was also born with an undiagnosed congenital heart defect (CHD) known as Truncus Arteriosus.
Two days after his birth, Grant and his mom, Holly, checked out of the hospital. We all headed home and started our new lives as a family. Grant was met with a lot of love from family and friends when he arrived home. The first couple of weeks after his birth were filled with joy and excitement as we adjusted to having a baby and looking towards the future. It is funny to think about how quickly our minds started to daydream when Grant was born. We already thought about schools, colleges, and a wedding. It was exciting to think about the years ahead and what Grant would turn out to be like when he was older.
Sadly, on August 22nd, seventeen days after Grant’s birth, our daydreaming stopped and our world turned upside down. Grant was sleeping a lot and not eating much throughout the day and was not acting like his normal self. As the day progressed, he seemed to get more lethargic. We became nervous and scared, taking his temperature and when we started to see blue around his lips, rushed to the hospital. On the way, Grant stopped breathing and passed away in Holly’s arms. The emergency room staff worked to revive Grant for what seemed like 2 hours. The doctor came out to give us the news that our son was gone. It was at that instant that life as we once knew it came to a screeching halt and our dreams of life with our son ended.
The autopsy was the first diagnosis of Grant's CHD. We wish we could say that Grant’s condition was an isolated one, but that is not the case. In fact, 40,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect each year in the United States. More than 50 percent of all children born with a congenital heart defect will require a least one invasive surgery in their lifetime and twenty percent of these children will not survive past their first year of life!
Although Grant is no longer physically with us, he still guides our hearts and minds to be better people, better parents, and most importantly his spirit inspired us to turn our grief into gratitude. In August 2007, on the eve of Grant’s fifth birthday, we hosted a fundraising event at Pat O’Brien’s in Memphis named Grant’s Gala. This event was developed to celebrate Grant’s life and thank everyone for all of the love and support we received over the years through some of the darkest times of our lives. Through this fundraising event, we were able to increase CHD awareness and raise over $25,000 for congenital heart defect research through The Children’s Heart Foundation.
Amazed by the amount of money we raised in 2007, we decided to carry on the event. Since 2007, we have continued to promote CHD awareness and have raised over $100,000 for congenital heart research through The Children's Heart Foundation, and have another event planned for August 2012.
We have continually been amazed at the outpouring of love and kindness we have received from family, friends and strangers. This little angel who was only with us for a short amount of time, has made an impact on many people. Countless amounts of money and time have been donated to churches, schools, hospitals, and charities across the country in Grant’s memory.
Although some dreams ended with Grant's passing, new dreams were born. Grant's little sisters and brother, Grace (8), Jacob (7) and Emma (4) know his face and hear stories about his sweet little life. We look forward to the future and are excited about the fact that lives will be saved due to the significant research that has been funded through Grant's Gala and The Children's Heart Foundation. Fully understanding the vital need for continued research in order to save and extend the lives of children born with a CHD is what The Children's Heart Foundation is dedicated to.......and why we are dedicated to The Children's Heart Foundation.
—Michael and Holly Goughnour