Family missing daughter with congenital heart defect pushes for awareness

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GRAND BLANC (WJRT) (2/12/2019) - "During her last moments, I told her Mom and Dad are going to fight for you forever. And, I refuse to stop," Mom, Heather West explained.

She lost her little girl to congenital heart disease in May 2017. Adalyn was just 8 months old.

Now nearly two years later, they make sure she's never too far away. There's a memorial for Adalyn covering the first wall you see when you walk into their home.

"It's something that every day when I walk down the stairs I see; and, it reminds me to keep going and get up and fight for CHD every day," West said.

She fights by volunteering to help families dealing with the disease and working to spread awareness.

"CHD is the number one birth defect, yet when you walk into a doctor's office they don't ask people if you want to test for it. And, it's mind blowing to me. That needs to change. And I'm working towards hopefully helping that," she explained.

West and her husband created the Adalyn Sparkle Heart Fund to raise money for research and to help educate their community.

She said there are a number of ways you can check on your baby's heart health from the moment you find out you're pregnant. If you're expecting, West suggests asking your doctor for a first trimester blood test, a Doppler ultrasound and a fetal echo-cardiogram. And then, she said, once your deliver, make sure to get a pulse ox test.

"I had all three of those with my second child and thank God her heart is perfect," West said.

Now 3 months old, Adalyn's little sister Oaklyn is the blessing West didn't know her family needed.

"After child loss it's kind of like am I gonna be able to love another child? And, I can assure you you can. It's - I miss her sister with my whole heart, but she has brought a lot of joy to my heart," she said.

It's that joy from Oaklyn that's fueling West's strength to fight for babies like her big sister Adalyn.

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