BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – In June of 2019, seven-month-old Grady Evans, son of Charles and Janice Evans, passed away from a critical congenital heart defect known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS). Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the most common birth defect among newborns, affecting one out of every four babies born. HLHS affects approximately one in every four thousand.
With HLHS, the left side of the baby’s heart never fully develops during pregnancy. Once born, the infant will experience serious issues, such as breathing problems, pounding heart, weak pulse, and ashen or bluish skin tone. HLHS has no cure and is typically fatal within the first days or months after birth, unless treated with medication followed by a series of operations, or heart transplantation. In his short life, spent entirely at the Boston Children’s Hospital, Grady Evans underwent multiple open-heart surgeries, procedures, and countless blood transfusions. His first surgery at one day old left him on life support for four days.
Mrs. Evans first donated blood when she was in high school, but it was after her experience with HLHS that she realized how vital donations of blood products are. “While [donating blood] may not always give the gift of life, it can give the gift of precious moments that will last a lifetime,” Mrs. Evans stated.
Only 3% of age-eligible Americans give blood, and through their son’s memory, the Evans family hopes to bring awareness, and urge people to act by making an appointment to participate in the blood drive on Saturday, Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Bellows Falls Union High School. Visit www.redcrossblood.org, and enter “Grady” in the search box to schedule an appointment. The more appointments filled, the more will be made available.
The first drive in Grady’s honor, held in February 2019, collected almost 70 pints, and more than half of those came from first time donors. Mrs. Evans’ goal is to get more people to sign up for the first time, and continue donating throughout their lives.
Said Mrs. Evans, “I will do my part to make sure other children and families have blood ready when necessary. Grady inspired us in so many ways. Since blood donation played such a big part in his life, we wanted to keep his memory alive by hosting this blood drive.”