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After An Unexpected Diagnosis, a Rock Hill Family Works to Help Heart Patients By Helping Students

A family photo of Nyla, Eric, and Tia Brown standing at the Heart Wall.
From Left to Right: Nyla, Eric, and Tia Brown

Five years ago, when Rock Hill couple Eric and Tia Brown were expecting their first child. After an abnormal anatomy scan, the first-time parents learned their unborn baby girl had Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). This critical heart defect affects the normal blood flow through the baby's heart. As the baby develops during pregnancy, the left side of the heart is underdeveloped. According to the CDC, approximately 1,025 babies are born with HLHS each year.

“This journey is not for the faint of heart,” Tia said. “Any parent who is a parent of a child with cardiac issues… heart issues [knows] it can get pretty dicey.”

Nyla is now five years old and living a fairly, normal life. But in the beginning, Tia said there were many days filled with a lot of uncertainty.

“You never know what the next minute is going to be like; second-guessing some of the most basic child-like activities.”

One thing the Browns never second-guessed was the need to bring awareness to pediatric heart issues and help other families in need. At the beginning of their journey, during the month of February (Heart Month) the family held fundraisers donating various items from clothing, toys, books, etc. to Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte. Tia said, it was their way of “paying it forward,” but said she wanted to do more.

Fast forward to the present day, and Brown's mission has evolved to make an impact on heart health through education.

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