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Photo courtesy of the Graham family
Photo courtesy of the Graham family

A family from Queens is raising money to help fund their infant’s third open heart surgery.

Kyle Graham was diagnosed with a particularly deadly form of a congenital heart defect when he was still in his mother’s womb. Doctors at Westchester Medical Center told Danielle Pechette-Graham and Joe Graham that Kyle had a 30 percent chance of surviving after birth, because half of his heart wouldn’t work at all. If he did survive after birth, doctors said, there would be a 50 percent chance of seeing Kyle graduate from high school, because operations to fix this problem can often lead to death. The doctors suggested abortion since Danielle was still 17 weeks pregnant. Danielle and Joe left and never returned. They chose to go to Columbia University Medical Center.

The couple has been in and out of hospitals since Kyle was born in January. The left side of 11-month-old Kyle’s heart – the side that pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body – doesn’t work at all, leading doctors to turn the right side of his heart into a dual-chambered muscle that can take on the role of the left side. So far, doctors have performed two open heart surgeries on Kyle to reconfigure the heart to this new task. Danielle said that doctors will have to perform a third open heart surgery when Kyle is around two to complete the conversion of the right side of the heart.

“The hardest part of this all was handing my child over to the surgeons,” Danielle said. “And knowing that his life was in their hands and knowing that your child’s chest is about to get cracked open.”

To compensate for Danielle leaving her job to care for Kyle and all the medical bills from two surgeries, the family will be holding a fundraiser at Patsy’s Pizzeria, 21-64 Utopia Pkwy., Whitestone, on Nov. 25. A portion of all sales at the pizzeria will go to Kyle’s family. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

“This is not an easy journey,” Danielle said. “It’s scary. But I have hope and I cling to it at every turn.”

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