On the same day Sarah and Matthew Hammitt welcomed their son Bowen into the world, they had to come to terms with the fact that they might lose him.
They weren’t sure if the newborn would survive two weeks, let alone reach adulthood. The odds were stacked against Bowen, who faced an uphill battle because of his condition. But today, he’s not just living — he’s thriving!
Bowen was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital birth defect that keeps half of the heart from developing properly.
Without medical intervention, the condition is fatal, so Bowen underwent his first open-heart surgery a few days after his birth in 2010. He’s since had two more operations in addition to spending the first 10 weeks of his life in the hospital.
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Knowing they may still have to say goodbye to Bowen is the hardest thing Sarah and Matthew have ever had to accept. Matthew, a musician, coped by writing and recording “All of Me,” an emotional song that captures the fear of losing his son.
Thankfully, Bowen has proven himself to be a warrior over the years. Not only did he survive, but he also grew into a little boy who is full of life!
While he has to take physical activities a little easier than other children, Bowen loves swimming, biking, and rock wall climbing. What’s more, he inherited his father’s passion for music. This year, he released a touching song called “Heart Strong,” which features other children with the same heart defect.
In September, he also celebrated his 10th birthday on Good Morning America, inspiring millions with his resilience! Host Michael Strahan even presented Bowen with a special gift from Disney: a $1,000 gift card for their online store!
Then he got a special shout-out from Disney star Skai Jackson!
But to Sarah, Matthew, and their three other children, the best gift of all is knowing Bowen has a future.
“Maybe he will have ’til he’s 30, you know, maybe he’ll live ’til he’s 40. And now I’m starting to go maybe he will get married,” Sarah told GMA. “I didn’t ever think those things would happen. And now I’m starting to let my heart believe they could.”
“Through three open-heart surgeries and all different kinds of struggles that Bowen has had, now we just see this incredible picture of hope,” Matthew added. “We see life here, and we’re so blessed by Bowen and the person that he’s becoming and the life that we have in him.”
Congratulations, Bowen! At every step of the way, you’ve proven yourself to be heart strong.
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