A boy born with “only half a heart” had his chances of living longer than just a few weeks compromised.
Nonetheless, the brave warrior is now 10 years old and is even following in the musical footsteps of his father, the lead singer of the Grammy-nominated rock band Sanctus Real.
Bowen Hammitt was born on Sept. 9, 2010, with a rare heart defect; he was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, or HLHS, a disorder in which the left side of the blood-pumping muscle is severely underdeveloped.
At 10 years old, the active boy has defied his early prognosis. He loves to swim and go climbing, and now he’s writing songs. Bowen released an original song, “Heart Strong,” in early 2020. He penned the lyrics himself, and the empowering music video features other brave kids with congenital heart defects.
(Courtesy of Matt Hammitt)
When Bowen’s father, Matt Hammitt, picked him up for the first time, he thought it “might be the last time” he would ever hold his baby son.
“It just didn’t feel real,” Hammitt told Good Morning America. “He looked so normal … he was perfect.”
Hammitt, finding comfort in his craft, wrote a song. “All of Me,” a moving lullaby, chronicles the heartache attached to bonding with Bowen while the baby’s life hung in the balance.
Bowen had the first of three open-heart surgeries to increase his life expectancy just days after being born. He spent over two months in hospital after his first open-heart surgery and has returned for an additional two complex surgeries since.
It was a pain shared by Bowen’s mother, Sarah.
“It was hard to know that I had to fall in love with somebody that had those odds,” she told Good Morning America in 2010, when Bowen’s struggle first made headlines.
The Hammitts have filmed a documentary, “Bowen’s Heart,” which follows Bowen’s journey through his surgeries, his dream of recording an album, and the family’s strength through adversity. The movie premieres at the Nashville Film Festival in October, reports The Christian Post.
“We believe it’s a message the world really needs right now,” said Hammitt.
Over 1,000 babies in the United States are born with HLHS every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infants diagnosed with HLHS after birth can die within the first two weeks of life. Without surgery, the condition is typically fatal for all patients.
Bowen, his parents, and his sisters, Emmy and Claire, believe in community. They spearhead a nonprofit, Whole Hearts Foundation, to support other families affected by congenital heart diseases, and have also built an online support network through their family blog.
“Through three open-heart surgeries and all different kinds of struggles that Bowen has had, now we just see this incredible picture of hope,” Hammitt told Good Morning America. “[W]e’re so blessed by Bowen.”
“Maybe he will have ’til he’s 30,” added Sarah; “maybe he’ll live ’til he’s 40.”
The mother admitted starting to dream that her son may get married one day.
“I didn’t ever think those things would happen,” she said. “And now I’m starting to let my heart believe they could.”
We would love to hear your stories! You can share them with us at email@example.com