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My name is Kate Garrett, and I am a writer and editor. I am also a mum.
My fifth and final child, Bonnie Melissa, was born on 23rd January 2018. Just over 24 hours after her birth she was whisked off to Leeds General Infirmary Congenital Hearts unit for tests and monitoring, to determine the severity of a congenital heart defect we didn’t even know she had.
Fortunately – and I can’t stress how lucky I feel we are – her condition seems mild, as we were sent home to Sheffield when she was a week old. By ‘home’ I mean straight home to our house, do not pass GO, do not spend a bit of extra time at Sheffield Children’s because they aren’t quite sure, and so on. I was told, after an emotional rollercoaster of a week, and three days of oxygen treatment, that she was going to be ok, and to bring her home and treat her just like a normal baby.
And it’s true: if I didn’t know our daughter had a faulty tricuspid valve (and slightly enlarged aorta), I would have no clue she has a faulty tricuspid valve (and slightly enlarged aorta). She is still under outpatient cardiology, but as long as she doesn't have any issues, they don't need to see her again until she is one year old.
However, plenty of other babies – and children, and teens, and adults – do need more treatments and surgeries, and Leeds Congenital Hearts work miracles for them. The unit is funded by the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund for the invaluable work they do, and it doesn’t bear thinking about that the government nearly closed this unit down. Whether someone’s heart defect is big or small, whether the person is big or small, they do everything they can to save a life.
This experience made me want to give back to the unit, to the nurses, the doctors, the healthcare assistants, everyone who keeps the place going. And the only thing I’m really any good at (apart from mothering) is writing poems and publishing other people’s, whether online or in book form. So I’ve made this site (and an accompanying anthology will follow, with 100% of the proceeds going to the CHSF Keeping the Beat campaign) to showcase poems of hope, hearts, hospitals, children, survival, love, faith – however those things manifest in the work people send – and hopefully raise some money for the CHSF / Leeds Congenital Hearts.
The site is called Bonnie’s Crew because my fierce little daughter is named after the pirate Anne Bonny, and this blog is a little offshoot associated with my journal and small press, Picaroon Poetry – a home for literary rogues. The typical pirate address ‘me hearties’ refers to sailors being “of stout heart” – and some of the stoutest hearts around are the ones that didn’t form quite as expected.
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