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Jack Turns 2 Today and Still Needs Your Help

The towhead toddler Jack Hanson still battles congenital heart disease and the family can use some support.

we introduced you to tiny Jack Hanson, a Branford boy born with a troubling heart condition. Just a little more than one year old, he had already undergone one open-heart surgery and now his parents brace for surgery number two.

Mom, Laura Hanson and dad, Mark Hanson, are both out of work an actively seeking employment; they both left jobs in Florida to move to Laura's hometown of Branford for Jack's treatment at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Laura states that the tough job market has been a challenge for them. The surgeries and care for Jack just add to the stress.

This Saturday Nov. 5, the Northford-based Open Your Heart Foundation is hosting a  at Foxbridge Village Clubhouse to help with Jack's medical costs. The family’s foundation Jack of All Hearts raises money for children with pediatric heart conditions but not for themselves.

A Branford neighbor of the Hansons', Maria Carangelo who sits on the Open Your Heart Foundation and board president Suzan Monaco, decided to throw the fundraiser for the family after learning about Jack over the summer.

“I never really thought that someone would give back to us,” said Laura this morning. “When you are giving to others, you are not supposed to think about yourself,” she added.

To date, despite their own financial hardships, which has included the move to Connecticut from Florida, the family has raised more than $16,000 for Jack of All Hearts to help others.

Today Jack turns 2 and Laura said the family will be having cake every day this week; not only is it Jack's birthday, but his big sister Ava turns 5 on Wednesday.

Relishing that Jack has made it one more year, Laura said,“Everyday is celebration.”

At five months pregnant, Laura shares that she went to the doctors for a routine ultrasound to learn the sex of the baby. She happily learned that she and Mark would be having a boy – with Ava at home, they had been hoping for a boy. But the good news was dashed, said Laura, when they also learned that Jack had a rare and dangerous heart condition; less than one percent of children with heart disorders have Jack’s condition.

Learning that her baby, even before being born, had such a rare disease, Laura said, "I had no hope in my heart." Now, two years later, on the day of Jack’s second birthday, she said, “I absolutely have hope. Jack has done that for me. He’s so tough. He’s just given us nothing but hope.”

In what Laura calls a rare turn of events for the usually unlucky family, Jack is a candidate for a recently FDA-approved surgery that he will undergo this spring; Dr. Toshi Shinoka from Japan will be coming to New Haven to treat him. Jack will be only the second person in the U.S. to have the surgery.

The doctors, Laura shared, will use Jack's own bone marrow/stem cells to grow his own artery in his heart, in place of using an artificial graft that has proven to have many problems. This will be vital to Jack’s growth later in life as his heart is currently oxygen deprived. Jack is missing almost 30 percent of oxygen to his brain, body and heart daily. This lack of oxygen can cause delays, deficits, disabilities and disorders. 

The goal right now, Laura said, is to get Jack talking by his surgery date this spring.

If you’d like to help out the family, please attend the on Nov. 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Foxbridge Village Clubhouse, 100 Hemlock Rd., Branford.  Some of the items for sale will include beautiful hand-crafted jewelry designed exclusively by Open Your Heart Inc., as well as Pampered Chef, Partylite candles, handmade soaps, children's accessories  and apparel and unique gift items.

If you think you can help the Hansons on the job front, Mark is looking for work in the management filed and recently held the position of Regional Manager for Able Body Labor (temporary staffing company). Laura worked in outside sales for the company with Mark in Florida before relocating to Connecticut. Please email Laura Hanson at laurabell127@aol.com with any job leads. 

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