All Heart: Gulfport family to hold benefit

Heart disease is the number one killer in America, but there’s hope as groups like the American Heart Association raise funds and awareness in the fight against heart disease.

Then there are those like the Etter family in Gulfport, whose three year old ‘walking miracle’ Blake proves you can be all heart even when you’re born with only half of one.

On any given day, the Etter’s home in Gulfport is full of life and life isn’t something they take for granted especially after little Blake made his debut into the world with a heart defect nearly three years ago. Blake’s mother, Rachel Etter, said, “Half a heart, the left side never developed. It’s called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, but it’s also known as HLHS. It’s a three procedure thing. Between the first and second surgery there is about a 20 percent mortality rate.”

But Blake has beaten the odds, playing alongside his fraternal twin brother, Bryce, you’d never known he’s undergone several medical procedures including two open heart surgeries. Grandmother Madeline Etter calls Blake their walking miracle although the road has been challenging at times. “Once he was born, the reality of it kicked in. That’s when we had to reach down inside our faith and ask the Lord for extra measures of grace and wisdom and knowledge.”

The Etters say that faith has carried them through and each day they still cling to hope. “With the research and development that’s been done in the last several years, it’s getting better and better and better,” said Madeline.

While Blake will likely have to undergo another open heart surgery in the next two years, once again the entire family is stepping up. On Tuesday, September 18th, the Etters are holding their own fundraiser for the American Heart Association at Texas Roadhouse in Gulfport from 4 to 10 p.m. “I feel like it’s just going to get better. Look at where we were 30 to 35 years ago. This type of thing, these babies didn’t have a chance.”

But Blake is living proof that now they do and with the research now underway the sky’s the limit.

Categories: Featured, Harrison County, Local News, News

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