Kids Day

3/11/2008 Fresno As you head off to work or school this morning you may notice that Valley streets are filled with people selling newspapers. Today is Kids Day. It's an "extra" way for you to help Valley children.

It's as simple as buying a Kids Day edition of the Fresno Bee. The newspaper staff worked well into the night getting this special edition ready. The paper includes pictures and stories of how Children's Hospital of Central California helped sick children.

This year's fundraising effort is being led by a pint-sized hero. Carter Williams is this year's "Kids Day Ambassador." Her family says without Children's Hospital Central California, Carter would not have survived her heart defect.

Four-year-old Carter Williams sometimes outpaces her parents. But they welcome every tiring moment their daughter can dish out, because that means she's not tired and her little heart is working well.

The Fresno family has become regular visitors to the Heart Center at children's Hospital Central California and this year, Carter is the Kids Day Ambassador.

Every six months Carter's heart is watched by ultrasound. The process is made a little easier if her Baby Lulu toy is checked out first.

Carter was born with an undetected, faulty heart valve that blocked the connection between her heart and her lungs. Moments after her birth, the Williams got the life-changing news.

At three days old, Carter had eight hours of open heart surgery to put in a donor valve and save her life. Now, every heartbeat is the sweetest sound to her grateful parents.

Cardiologist John Caton checks on Carter's progress and uses a sketch of the heart to show how her heart valve leaks blood back into one of the chambers. But he paints a bright future for Carter, even though she'll need another surgery, sometime in her young life. "In terms of her being a functional, normal person, going to school, growing up being elected to congress that sort of thing are very good," said Dr. Caton.

In the meantime, the Williams have become champions for Children's Hospital because of Carter's care. "That's why we want to continue to fund Children's Hospital and fund research so that everybody else can have a situation and results like this," said Carter's dad Kevin Williams.

Just a few decades ago, a child born with carter's condition would have died. Doctors at Children's Hospital hope by the time carter needs her next surgery medical advances will enable researchers to use a patient's own tissue to "grow" a heart valve.

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