Like most first-time mothers, Renée Teachout was excited and nervous, but ready. That swiftly changed during her 18-week check-up when she learned the child she was carrying had a heart defect.

Three days after Harrison was born, additional testing showed he was missing his right coronary artery – meaning he needed a heart transplant.

“It was life changing,” Renée said. “I was just learning to be a mom and then had to learn to be a transplant mom. It was really overwhelming.”

At just seven weeks, she got the call: There was a donor for Harrison.

“There is a sigh of relief, but you’re also so sad because it means someone else lost a child,” Renée remembers. “There is no describing what it is like to go through.”

This past October, Harrison had his five-year check-up and the Teachouts were relieved to hear all is well with his heart. But life is still far from “normal”. Medication Harrison will be on for life takes a toll on his immune system – meaning he can end up in the hospital for even the slightest illness. Despite balancing worrying about keeping her son safe and ensuring he can have fun, Renée says Harrison is a ball of energy.

“No one would know he has a different heart than he was born with – he is still full of life.”

Renée first learned about the Children’s Healing Center coming to Southeast Michigan through a fellow heart mom on Facebook. The mother-son pair have since attended several pop-up programs, which give families an opportunity to learn more about the Center, the safeguards in place and meet other future members while the new location is being built.

Renée says the Center will be especially helpful during the cold and flu season when they can’t find outdoor activities.

“It’s such a relief to know this place will be here for us and other families. There are so many factors to this lifestyle so I’m looking forward to having a place to go and not have to explain our situation to other parents.”

She also shares how much it means to have people who care and understand what they – and so many others – are going through enough to bring the Children’s Healing Center to her community.

“They say it takes a village,” she said. “For us, it takes a special village.”