By Erin Cohn, 1.10.19

When Susan Aucoin was 29 weeks pregnant, she was told that she had twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome– a rare disease of the placenta that only affects identical twin pregnancies.

Susan’s OB sent her to a specialist who discovered a congenital defect in one of the twins; that baby would have to have open-heart surgery soon after birth.

When Henry and Benjamin were born on April 27, 2009, Henry was immediately taken to the NICU. After numerous complications, Henry’s first open-heart surgery was scheduled for May 15.  At 4 ½ pounds, Henry was the smallest baby his surgeons had ever performed this procedure on–his heart was about the size of a quarter.

Susan, holding Henry for the first time at two months old.

Susan and her husband, Dwayne, were told to pray for a miracle. Despite grim odds, Henry’s 13-hour surgery was a success and on July 12, after 77 days apart, Henry and Benjamin were reunited. The following day, Henry went home.

A Helping Hand 

Since Henry’s first night in the hospital, Susan wanted to do something to help other pediatric heart patients and their families traveling to New Orleans for treatment.

Even though she was the owner of a monogram business, employed part-time at Collins Pediatrics and mom to three small children, Susan was determined. Upon hearing Susan’s idea, Dwayne got on board.

In 2013 the Henry Aucoin Foundation was established in honor of their son, Henry. The Foundation’s goal is to raise money for the American Heart Association through Team Henry during the New Orleans Heart Walk every November, as well as to raise funds for grants through Henry’s Hearts galas throughout the year.

The grants help families that are under a financial burden due to surgery, procedures, medications, equipment, and travel expenses.

Looking To The Future

(l-r) Susan, and husband Dwayne with Benjamin, Emily, and Henry

Susan hopes that the grants could eventually provide a transportation van for patients as well as fund ‘Henry’s House’.

The ‘Henry’s House’ is a place where patients and their families could live while receiving treatment in New Orleans, so they don’t need to live in hotel rooms.

In the six years since the Foundation began, Henry and his siblings have been able to present 70 grant checks to families in need, amounting to a total of $100,000. Of course, their work is far from over!

 

 

 

On February 8, 2019, Henry’s Hearts is hosting a Mardi Gras Masquerade Gala. Held at Deutsches Haus, the gala boasts a silent auction, food from local restaurants, a live band, and an open bar. All proceeds will benefit pediatric heart patients and their families. Tickets (must be 21 or over) and sponsorships can be purchased at hhg2019.brownpapertickets.com.

 

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