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"Heart to Heart with Anna" is the longest-running podcast devoted to the congenital heart defect (CHD) community. Our shows feature Survivors, family members, medical professionals and others in the CHD community who wish to share their stories, expertise, and advice. This show is devoted to empowering, educating and enriching the lives of members of the CHD community.
 
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VBAC Birth Stories

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VBAC Birth Stories

Melissa Merino & Stephanie Cannavo

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A podcast featuring Australians sharing their journey of vaginal birth after caesarean. Through sharing and learning from each other's lived experiences the podcast is designed to empower and educate those whose VBAC journey may have just begun, help all expecting mums achieve a more natural birth if that is their intention, and better inform birth professionals about one's journey to a VBAC.
 
Improve your knowledge about organ, tissue and eye donation as your hosts Lori Steele, Sara Blakemore, and Joey Boudreaux have entertaining and informative conversations about donation. We address donation in the news, myths about donation, what's new in the community, new technologies, special guest interviews and much more.
 
Dear Friends & Family is a show about living a full life with chronic illness with your hosts Patty & Lex. Patty lives with Fibromyalgia & Lex lives with Small Fiber Neuropathy. Together they explore the topics of life, love, and happiness with other people living a life involving illness. This show is to remind anyone dealing with illness in their day to day lives, whether they are the caretaker or the person with illness, that they are not alone. It's a serious topic with an upbeat feel. P ...
 
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Paul Cardall was born in 1973 with only half a heart. He had his first open-heart surgery a few hours after birth and two more surgeries at age 13 and 14. As a child, he took piano lessons but wasn’t keen on practice. As a teenager, he started composing and became obsessed. He was hired to play at weddings, in restaurants, and in department stores.…
 
What was it like to grow up with tetralogy of Fallot in the 1980s? How can having a heart defect influence your career choice as an adult? What psychological challenges do Heart Warriors face? Joy Ogawa was born in Hawaii with tetralogy of Fallot in 1979 and had an open-heart surgery at 22 months of age. She considers herself lucky to have only exp…
 
Show Notes: Mark Scotch rode a bicycle across the US to raise awareness for living kidney donation and registration as an organ, tissue and eye donor, and now he's right here on episode 169 to share the details of his journey. We welcome Mark along with his wife, Lynn, and his kidney voucher recipient, Hugh Smith, to hear their update. Sara leads a…
 
Today we meet Nadima who lives in Melbourne with her husband and two children. Nadima, like many of us, never imagined she would have a caesarean so when she was wheeled into theatre for an emergency caesarean this naturally came as a shock to her. She was booked in for an induction at 37 weeks due to earlier concerns with her baby’s heart rate, bu…
 
Show Notes: We welcome the Executive Director of The Alliance, Kerri Hobson-Pape, to learn about their 'All Teach, All Learn' style of collaboration to facilitate the sharing of professional best practices related to organ donation and transplantation. Sara leads us through a discussion on the myths of happiness. We honor Ivana Butler and answer yo…
 
Today we meet Zara from central Queensland and talk to her about her two births. Zara's VBAC journey began with Darcy who was a planned caesarean due to his breech positioning. The caesarean itself wasn't traumatic, but it was what happened afterwards that left Zara feeling like she could not go through childbirth again. She experienced post natal …
 
Why might a Heart Mom choose to volunteer with an advocacy organization? What can an advocacy organization do to help others learn about congenital heart defects? What are the future plans for Conquering CHD and how can people get involved? Liz Schurrer is mom to eight-year-old Eli, who was prenatally diagnosed with truncus arteriosus. Her family’s…
 
VBAC Birth Stories in discussion with Professor of Midwifery Hannah Dahlen on how Covid-19 restrictions are affecting birthing women in Australia and what women can do to make the most of their birth experience and postpartum in these trying times. We speak about the impact of birth restrictions on migrant women and their families, domestic violenc…
 
Show Notes: We welcome Brandi Zofkie, a director with Lung Bioengineering, for a fascinating discussion about their lung perfusion system and the personal passion that fuelled founder Martine Rothblatt. Hear how their focus on lung transplantation innovation and technology is striving to change the culture of the transplant world. Sara explores how…
 
Why would an artist choose a career working in the operating room of a pediatric hospital? What joy is to be had of drawing broken hearts and the operations surgeons use to save these critically ill babies’ lives? In what other ways does artist Susan Russell Hall find joy in art? Susan Russell Hall is a Northwest artist and medical illustrator who …
 
Show Notes: Our hosts have a fun and informative conversation with Lana Stevens. Lana is a community educator for LOPA and the co-host for NOLA Hawts, a podcast focused on Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) and all that goes with it. Lana was inspired to use the podcast medium after seeing how The Gifted Life helped educate and inspire the donation & t…
 
Today Mel shares her second VBAC birth story with her third baby Emilia. Her birth was a surprise breech homebirth, which was somewhat poetic given her primary caesarean was due to her first baby being breech. Her second birth in a public hospital under caseload midwifery care was a successful unmedicated VBAC (You can listen to this story in episo…
 
What can a healthcare advocate learn by becoming a patient facing a life-and-death situation? Why might a patient advocate write a book about his life-changing heart event? How does someone who has worked in the field of healthcare for 37 years see the field of healthcare changing to better suit the needs of patients? Thomas Dahlborg is from Brockt…
 
What is congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries or ccTGA? Historically, people born with ccTGA tended to do fairly well. Why is it today doctors are choosing to operate on the hearts of babies born with ccTGA? What does Dr. Edward Bove think about the future of babies born with ccTGA? Erin Beckemeier is mom to Conway, born in 200…
 
Show Notes: We welcome Diane Jackson from The Slone Group for a conversation about the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion in organ donation policy as well as in the culture of organ procurement organizations. Nila Schwab, a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor, offers some advice about the resistance to change and how to recognize…
 
What happens when a Fontan patient needs a tune-up? What kinds of procedures might a Fontan patient need after living with a Fontan heart? What can we learn from an experienced Fontanner who might be facing multiple medical procedures? Leslie Castro is a 48-year-old former single ventricle patient from Pennsylvania. She was born with tricuspid atre…
 
In this episode we meet Jess who is a mother of four living in regional Victoria. Jess has a unique VBAC story to tell us. Her first birth was a vaginal birth in a private hospital setting- the fairly positive birth experience was somewhat overshadowed when doctors discovered her newborn daughter had a rare connective tissue disorder. Despite the c…
 
What happens when one daughter, in a set of twins, is diagnosed with a congenital heart defect and the other twin is heart-healthy? How can a family handle having one child in the hospital, separated from her twin? What should families tell their children about their medical history? What is the value of sharing family stories? Lisa and Michael Oli…
 
Show Notes: We welcome back Howl the Owl author Brenda Cortez, we first spoke with her in episode 115. Brenda has written a new book, Because of Donation, which is a curated collection of inspiring stories about organ donation. She is joined on this episode by Brittany Elliser, mom to liver recipient Briggs. Their family’s story is one of 25 storie…
 
Three women reflect on their COVID-19 VBAC birth experiences in Australian hospitals. Michal is a Melbourne based midwife and mother of three who shares her experience in Episode 16. Jessica is a mother of two based in Torquay whose birth is shared in Episode 19. Erin is a Perth mother of two who recently shared her story in episode 36 after she fo…
 
How can a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother -- determine how to help families like her own? Why would a woman make it her mission to help others with an invisible illness? What can we learn from such a woman? Jackie Renfrow thought her family had a history of epilepsy. After losing her son Jimmy in 2000 and her daughter Crissy in 2002, she…
 
Today we hear from Erin who lives in Perth with her husband and two children. Erin is a Type 1 Diabetic and we hear how this affected her first pregnancy and what different approaches she took in her VBAC pregnancy to give herself the best chance of experiencing spontaneous labour for the first time, as she was induced at 37 weeks in her first birt…
 
Heart Warrior Lisa Dang Colvil returns to "Heart to Heart with Anna" but this time she is joined by her mother and her daughter. Lisa was born with a complicated congenital heart defect and Anna talks to her mother, Kim, about her experience fleeing war-torn Vietnam, having a daughter in a country where she barely knew the language, and what it was…
 
Show Notes: The gift of life can inspire and motivate people to reach for the stars. In this episode, we connect with musician Althea Grace, whose toddler daughter Lennon is not only a liver recipient, but also her songwriting inspiration. We learned about their story on American Idol, where Althea was a contestant and are excited to share their jo…
 
Mike Edenburn was born in 1943 with Tetralogy of Fallot (ToF). Mike was the 44th patient to receive the Blalock Taussig shunt. On October 2, 1945, Dr. Alfred Blalock, Vivian Thomas, and Dr. Denton Cooley performed heart surgery on Mike. After the surgery, Mike turned from blue to pink and was able to breathe freely for the first time in his life. M…
 
Is it possible to meet one’s surgeon over 4 decades after open-heart surgery when you don’t even know if your surgeon was a man or a woman and you only know the last name? Who can help you when the hospital tells you that they don’t have your records anymore? What joy is to be had from connecting with someone who saved your life when you were a lit…
 
Show Notes: We welcome a young man who's transplantation journey has become his professional inspiration. Liver recipient, William Porter, tells us about his road to receiving the gift of life and how it influenced his career path and inspired the creation of Operation Impact. Then we offer some tips for coping with despair, answer your question an…
 
Today we hear from Wollongong (NSW) mum of two Mara who had a VBAC with a short birth interval of only 15 months. Mara’s first birth was a deeply traumatic emergency caesarean where she reached full dilation with a posterior baby. She was determined to have a VBAC when the time came, which to Mara’s surprise happened a lot sooner than she had antic…
 
Why would a Heart Warrior choose to become a Nurse Practitioner? What does the liver and liver health mean to a Fontan Heart Warrior? What does the future hold for people with single ventricle hearts and compromised livers? Mary is a 29-year-old female with hypoplastic right heart syndrome, atrial septal defect, transposition of the great vessels, …
 
What can encourage a Heart Warrior to start learning more about her heart condition? What kind of books has Margaret Ellis Raymond written and what’s the hold-up with the 4th and 5th books? Why would a Heart Warrior start a YouTube channel and what can we expect to see on that channel? Margaret Ellis Raymond is an author, editor, and YouTuber from …
 
Show Notes: Organ and tissue donation for medical research is a way for heroes to contribute to innovation and the search for treatments and cures. On this episode, we welcome Caroline Hare from Autism BrainNet who shares how donors and their families are paving the way for greater understanding of the biological causes of autism spectrum disorder …
 
“Prepare your body and mind to achieve your VBAC and then let go of your attachment to the outcome.” If anyone knows how to fight the good fight its Sydney based mother of two and human rights lawyer, Lara. As a VBAC hopeful Lara was fastidious in her birth preparation but in the end the events which unfolded took her and her care providers by surp…
 
Leslie Castro is a 47-year-old former single ventricle patient from Pennsylvania. She was born with tricuspid atresia, pulmonary stenosis, and multiple other heart defects, and had the Classic Fontan at the age of 12 in 1985. Just over a year ago, she received a heart transplant. Her donor was a 29-year-old woman who was a Hepatitis C positive intr…
 
Show Notes: We connected with Mark Scotch from Wisconsin, whose chance meeting during a leisure trip to Louisiana, saved another man's life through the living kidney donor voucher program. You don't want to miss this remarkable story and how it led to the creation of The Organ Trail. Then we chat about what true mindfulness is and honor hero Camero…
 
Who is Eric Ankerud? Why would someone want to start a nonprofit organization to help the congenital heart defect community? What services does Heartfelt Dreams Foundation provide? Eric Ankerud's wife, Lori, was born in 1958 with a serious heart defect called 'tetralogy of Fallot.' Lori was known as a "blue baby," and she had a ventricular septal d…
 
Show Notes: Joey Gase is honoring NASCAR Hall of Famer, Davey Allison, on his car in the Talladega races April 24th and 25th. Davey became a donor on April 28th, 28 years ago, and his race car number was 28. Joey knows the importance of sharing the stories of donors and encouraging families to talk about their wishes, he made the decision for his m…
 
What is it like to be born in Vietnam in the 1970s with a heart defect? What efforts would a mother make to ensure her daughter has a chance for life? How does understanding one’s family history impact one’s future? Amy M. Le shares an amazing story with Anna about her mother's life-changing decision to flee war-torn Vietnam to save her daughter's …
 
Show Notes: Transplant patients all have to adapt to a new way of life post transplant, but there are unique challenges for pediatric transplant patients and their families. Everything from how to explain to young siblings where the new organ came from, to worrying about their ability to physically grow. Joseph Hillenburg and Melissa McQueen are bo…
 
In this episode we meet Emma, a mum of two boys who lives in Wollongong south of Sydney. Emma is a nurse and aspiring midwife and is also a prenatal yoga teacher and has her own yoga studio. Emma’s first birth in the private system ended in an emergency caesarean after she was induced at 39 weeks. It was discovered later that cervical scar tissue f…
 
It's official! We are celebrating 300 episodes of "Heart to Heart with Anna"! To help us with this celebration, Alexander Jaworski, Anna's son who was born with a critical congenital heart defect, is the Guest Host and Anna is in the hot seat answering questions about the podcast which you may not be aware of. How did the longest-running podcast de…
 
Show Notes: “Organ donation is like life, it's about the trying. And when someone gives the gift of donation, they are giving another family a chance to try. And sometimes, it's all we get. And somehow, it's enough.” Lisa Bradshaw from the Don’t Wait Project joins us again to share her latest endeavor to promote organ donation - songwriting! The so…
 
What lessons can we learn from our adult Heart Warriors? Why might a Heart Mom write a book about her life experiences dealing with CHD? How does a Heart Mom take her personal experiences to fight for others in the hospital? Jenny Muscatell is a licensed social worker, blogger, author, photographer, and podcaster. She earned her Bachelor’s in Menta…
 
In today's episode we chat to Queensland mum of three and co-creator of the clothing brand Sunday Wild, Crystal, about her VBAC journey which began with an elective caesarean with her twin daughters. Crystal tells her story with a refreshing humour and warmth and speaks to the fact that not all elective caesareans are really wanted. During our chat…
 
Why would the Queen of England bestow an Order of the British Empire honor upon a doctor for his services to medicine and charity - especially when the charity does not serve the children of Great Britain? How many children around the globe have been saved by this nonprofit? What is this nonprofit organization doing to save children born with the n…
 
Show Notes: Breast reconstruction is an important aspect of patient recovery following mastectomy. On this episode, we welcome back our friends from Bio-Aesthetics for an update on their important work to aid in the reconstruction process. Nick Pashos and Billy Heim first visited with us on episode 104, now we are thrilled to learn how their work h…
 
How might a Heart Warrior use her adversity to become a poet? What might bring a woman to accept Jesus Christ into her life and thus change her future forever? What can we learn from this gentle spirit who has come close to death herself and lived to bring hope to others? Today’s show is Lisa Colvil: Heart Warrior Author and Poet and our Guest is L…
 
In today's episode we meet Kate, a mum of two who lives with her husband near Newcastle north of Sydney. Kate's had the unique journey of experiencing three kinds of maternity care models across her two pregnancies. Her VBAC journey began with an emergency caesarean performed in Sydney while she was under the midwifery group practice continuity of …
 
How can a couple survive the loss of their precious son? What can be done when an entire country seems to be neglecting the needs of its most vulnerable residents? How can people make a difference in their community? Today's Guest, Jyoti Sagar, answers those questions and so much more! Jyoti Sagar and his wife Prema lost their son Sameer, who was b…
 
Show Notes: The Traumatic Loss Support Program is a new program adopted by LOPA to help further support the loved ones of deceased donors. Libbie Harrison, one of LOPA's Family Support staff, joins us to share some of the key aspects of the program like the 4-legged stool, the need to care for ourselves, care for others and talks about the addition…
 
In this bonus episode of VBAC Birth Stories we speak to Karen McClay, better known as the Director of Calmbirth, but a lesser known fact about the registered midwife, nurse and mother of three is that she herself undertook her own VBAC journey. We had the privilege of hearing that personal story in this interview. Karen shares the emotions surround…
 
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