By Ukee Washington
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Montgomery County couple whose daughter faces a life-threatening birth defect is stepping up to help people in the same situation. The parents say they received so much help from family and friends, they want to give back.
Seventeen-month-old Bella loves playing outside. It’s something her parents, Justin and Erin Borkowski, feared she might never do after tests in utero showed Bella had a serious heart defect: hypoplastic left heart syndrome. She was missing almost the entire left side of her heart.
“When you first hear it, it’s one of those things like, what do you mean my daughter’s going to be okay? She’s only going to have half a heart,” said her father.
As soon as Bella was born, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia worked for a week to prepare her for two open heart surgeries. Mom and Dad rarely left the hospital.
“You don’t want to leave your baby,” Erin Borkowski said. “So when there was a time that we did need to leave the hospital, we didn’t have to worry about the cost of staying close.”
Family and friends made T-shirts to raise funds to cover their expense of staying in a Philadelphia hotel for two months. They called the project Beats for Bella.
“It’s amazing what people will do for you when they know you need some help,” Erin said.
Now that Bella’s surgeries have given her the opportunity for a normal life, her parents are paying it forward. Beats for Bella now raises funds for CHOP research and other families with children facing heart defects.
“Congenital heart defects are the number one birth defect in babies, and not many people know that,” Erin said.
Their big event is their second annual golf outing this Saturday at Jeffersonville Golf Club in Norristown, 2400 West Main Street.
“Last year, having raised about $25,000 with just a couple of fundraisers, we really have high hopes for this year,” Erin said.
Bella has one more surgery coming up. They hope it will be her last.