Ariel Hernandez, congenital heart defect survivor

Ariel, a toddler with Down Syndrome, smiling in her backyard with a red dress and pig tails*What has been your silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic? Our silver lining for 2020 was we got to take a break from everything for a little while and enjoy our time together. As much as they are needed, therapies can sometimes be overwhelming and don’t leave a lot of time to just be a toddler. Or a parent. Or even just hang out as a family. This gave us a chance to really spend quality time together before Ariel’s heart surgery this past summer.

How do you Go Red from home to keep your heart healthy? Having a Down syndrome diagnosis means there are many factors that come with it. One of those is obesity which has been linked to thyroid issues and low muscle tone. Even though Ariel is only two years old we have started giving her adult flavors so that she will hopefully develop healthy eating habits as a teen and as an adult. She enjoys many foods and as a result these foods will also keep her heart healthy. 

What heart health advice do you have for other women? My advice to other women is that connecting with others for advice or moral support and resources has proven to be invaluable. We connect with other families that face the same issues as us in a social media group. We are also very involved in the Down syndrome community and without learning from the experiences of other parents and patients we would have gone without many services.

*responses submitted by Ariel’s mom, Kristal Hernandez