Baby Pierce Article, Jackson Free Press

Source:  Baby Pierce Article, Jackson Free Press    Tag:  turner syndrome support society
The following article was posted this week in the Jackson Free Press about the Helms family and their CHD angel, Pierce. Pierce's father, BJ, said, "I know he's in heaven. He's whole again, not hurting. That's how I get peace with it. Every day I miss him, and I'll always miss him."
The kind of peace we crave through times like these, only God can give. Sometimes prayers aren't answered the way we hoped they would be. Thankfully, we have a God who clings to us, when we aren't strong enough to hold on to him. God's plan is so far above our human comprehension, we could never understand, even if he tried to explain it to us. Through this pain, the Helms' family is touching lives and spreading awareness which will in turn save lives. During my pregnancy, I read the following quote from Rick Warren: "Your greatest ministry, will likely come out of your greatest hurt." I believe that to be very true. Through our painful experiences, we are able to relate to others and also comfort them in similar situations. I counted on the following verses to lift me up lots of times during my pregnancy, expecially, when I thought Avery would was going to Heaven rather than staying here with me.

2 Cor. 1:3-7

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.
When we suffer for Jesus, it works out for your healing and salvation. If we are treated well, given a helping hand and encouraging word, that also works to your benefit, spurring you on, face forward, unflinching. Your hard times are also our hard times. When we see that you're just as willing to endure the hard times as to enjoy the good times, we know you're going to make it, no doubt about it.

2 Cor. 4:8-18

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.

But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.”We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Regardless, of what happens, God will lead us through it, and if we let Him, He will create a purpose within us that we never would have pictured for our lives. Steven Curtis Chapman's wife made a great point (which I heard on KLove) when she said that when we can praise God through the most terrible times in our lives, as well as the wonderful times, we know our love for Him is pure. Praise Him in whatever storm you are in, and know that He loves you and He has an ultimate plan that is much bigger than we are.

Please join us all in the heart walk to raise awareness and walk in honor of all of the CHD "babies" out there.

Walking for Pierce
by ShaWanda Jacome
September 29, 2010

Pierce lay motionless in her arms, with his little Mohawk hair, dark brown and full. "I got to see his face," says Leah Helms, 33, about what she remembers most vividly in the final moments of her son's life. "I'm glad that we got to have that moment. ... (My husband, BJ, and I) were both just speechless ... how pretty to see his nose and mouth and face."

Pierce Allen Helms, or Baby Pierce as he had become known, had been running on fumes those last couple of days.

"He never gave up, he fought to the end. He never quit," BJ, 35, said.

Pierce's lungs, damaged and full of holes from the ventilator, couldn't be repaired through surgery. And because of sepsis, a whole-body infection, he didn't qualify for a double transplant.

Baby Pierce was born with congenital aortic stenosis, an abnormal narrowing of his aortic valve. Infant (younger than 1 year) death rates are 36.5 per 100,000 white infants and 52.5 per 100,000 black infants, the American Heart Association reports.

Although a large part of the AHA efforts concentrates on adults, it also funds research to find ways to detect congenital heart defects sooner and give children a longer and better quality of life, Elaina Jackson of the AHA of Jackson said.

Dr. Jorge Salazar, chief of congenital heart surgery at the University of Mississippi Health Care, performed the state's first arterial switch on an infant in August.

Since joining UMMC in April, Salazar, 42, has performed 55 successful heart surgeries on children. "I'm really excited for the other kids in Mississippi because they don't have to leave their state anymore. They get the same high-quality care at home," Salazar told the JFP in September.

Prior to Pierce's birth on Oct. 26, 2009, the Helms family had no indication of what lay ahead. Leah had a smooth pregnancy and four prior births of healthy babies.

"We never knew anything was wrong. ... I was thinking everything was fine," Leah said.

Things changed, though, after she delivered. "The nurse said ... 'We think he has a murmur. When he's breathing there's just this little growling sound,'" Leah said.

Pierce was transferred from River Oaks to UMC for surgery, but went into congestive heart failure and respiratory failure. He was then airlifted to the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., for additional surgery on his heart.

"We were just in shock. You hear about this kind of stuff, you read about it, but you just don't think it's going to happen to you," BJ said.

Over the next two months, Pierce's condition worsened, and it became evident that he would need a new heart. Pierce was transferred again to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, arriving New Years Day.

"Just the agony of waiting and wondering and not knowing--it's a miserable, miserable feeling," BJ said.

"It was a long journey," he continued. "... I've been to combat ... I mean I wasn't just over in a country typing papers. I was (on the) front line, kicking in doors. And that doesn't compare to the stress of having a child on a transplant list, being that critical."

Baby Pierce had been through so much--pulmonary hypertension, premature ventricular contraction (misfiring of the heart), infections, ventilators, blood clots, transfusions and heavy sedation--his body just couldn't handle the constant strain. On Jan. 15, Leah broke the news on her online journal.

"My little Pierce got his angel wings today around 3."

Through teary eyes, BJ said, "I know he's in heaven. He's whole again, not hurting. That's how I get peace with it. Every day I miss him, and I'll always miss him."

BJ and Leah live in Brandon with their children Katie, 13; Peyton, 6; and Patrick 2. They lost their son Jonathan, who would have been 9 this year, in a 2003 car accident.

The Helmses don't want other Mississippians to go through what they did; they want to bring awareness. And although they wonder if the outcome would have been different if a pediatric cardio unit had been in Mississippi for Pierce, they are glad it's here now.

"I think there was more of a lesson than just to have Pierce and lose him. ... God does everything for a reason. We might not understand it at the time, but you have to listen to him and keep on going." Leah said.

This year, the JFP will walk in memory of Baby Pierce. Last year, more than 3,000 people raised more than $300,000 to fund heart research and educational programs.

The American Heart Association's 2010 Metro Jackson Start! Heart Walk is Sunday, Oct. 10, at 2 p.m. with registration at 1 p.m. The free event features a kid's zone, music, health information, a one-mile route for heart disease and stroke survivors, and a free, heart-healthy lunch by Subway. Pets on leashes are welcome.

Sign up at metrojacksonheartwalk. to join team JFP. For more information, contact ShaWanda Jacome at [email protected], or call 601-362-6121 ext. 16