BURLINGTON, N.C. (January 19, 2011) – Heath Tuttle will be recognized by National Agents Alliance and its President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Albright during the company’s National Convention Jan. 21 at the Raleigh Convention Center in Raleigh, N.C. Tuttle, who received a heart transplant at only nine months old in Nov. 2008 at Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center, is one of the many success stories that can be found through the work of the Children’s Miracle Network and Duke Children’s Hospital.
“We are grateful to Andy Albright and his team at National Agents Alliance for allowing us the opportunity to share our miracle patients’ stories,” said Kristen Johnson, Director of Annual Programs, and Stewardship & Communications at Duke Children’s. “Families like the Tuttles love to share their stories and being a part of the convention is a great experience.
“National Agents Alliance has been a valuable partner with Duke Children’s over the past four years. It is through the generosity of donors, such as NAA, that funds are available to help find cures, to brighten the hospital experience for children, to help wherever the need is the greatest. We depend on donations to make miracles happen.”
Albright, who proudly supports the efforts of the Children’s Miracle Network and Duke Children’s Hospital, said stories like Heath Tuttle reinforce just how important it is to support organizations that help people in times of great need.
“In this case, you’ve got a young family with a daughter and a little newborn in Heath, and the news they got on Heath had to be devastating,” Albright said. “When things looked like they were not going to end well, an amazing thing happened for their family and Heath. Duke Children’s Hospital played a role in that and I can’t wait to see the Tuttles on stage at NAA’s National Convention in Raleigh. It truly is an amazing story of hope and faith. It will be an honor for me to talk to them and see how Heath is doing.”
Tuttle seemed to be a healthy 7 pounds, 11 ounce baby at birth, but 24 hours later doctors ran a series of tests that revealed the infant had a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, where the heart’s muscle becomes thick and can’t relax, which ultimately leads to cardiac arrest. Heath would need a heart transplant or he would not survive.
The Tuttles thought Heath would gradually become weaker and eventually need a transplant, but it was faster than that. Less than a month after his diagnosis and only weeks after the Tuttles – Chris and Carrie, along with Heath’s older sister, Ella Brooks – moved from Greensboro to Durham, Heath was rushed to Duke Hospital after having a seizure at a clinic as a nurse tried to draw blood.
Doctors struggled and failed to stabilize Heath at Duke, finally tethering him to a heart-lung machine. Without a transplant, Heath might suffer renal failure or bleeding from the brain.
Chris and Carrie Tuttle, both ordained Presbyterian ministers, went back and forth between the hospital and their home with seemingly little hope in sight as their son was on mechanical circulatory support to try to save his life.
Late on Dec. 13, 2008, Carrie was headed toward the hospital’s chapel. On the way there, she received the phone call the Tuttles had been waiting for. A heart donor had been found and the heart was en route to Duke Hospital that very hour.
Heath Tuttle came home Jan. 10, 2009 with a new heart, but the challenges continued. He had to take anti-rejection drugs that lowered his body’s natural immune response. He wasn’t able to go to church for fear of catching a cold, people that wanted to hold him had to first wash their hands and there were numerous anti-bacterial wipes along the journey to recovery.
“Duke’s faculty and staff continue to care for us and our son and are personally invested in seeing him thrive,” Chris Tuttle said.
This is just one of the many uplifting stories that have been made possible through the efforts of the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and its members like Duke Children’s Hospital. CMN raises unrestricted funds for Duke Children’s to help support research, clinical care, advocacy and family support programs to help children and families heal both physically and emotionally.
Johnson said it’s a great feeling to work at a place that offers hope to those in need.
“It is a place where families come in their darkest hour to find answers and compassionate care,” Johnson said. “Stories like that of Heath Tuttle remind me why we push so hard to make a difference in the lives of our patients.”
Duke Children’s treats 200,000 patients each year and provides research findings that touch millions of people worldwide. Duke Children’s is nationally ranked among the best pediatric health care programs of its kind.
“When you talk about impacting 200,000 people a year that is huge,” Albright said. “That’s making a difference in my book. To have Duke Children’s Hospital in North Carolina is a great resource for the state of North Carolina and the United States. It’s truly one of the best hospitals you can find anywhere.”
ABOUT DUKE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL & HEALTH CENTER
Duke Children’s Hospital & Health Center, located in Durham, N.C., is nationally ranked among the best in pediatric health care programs. Caring for children is our number one priority, from routine check-ups and immunizations to the treatment of life-threatening injuries and illnesses. At Duke Children’s, we provide hope and the most advanced health care available. Offering innovative procedures including stem cell and bone marrow transplants as well as a variety of support services for our patients and their families, Duke Children’s cares for children from around the world. We are also a critical local resource – taking care of 60 percent of Durham’s children with more than 70 percent of patients coming from central North Carolina. For more information please visit www.dukechildrens.org.
ABOUT NATIONAL AGENTS ALLIANCE
National Agents Alliance is an innovative lead generation and marketing organization that sells life insurance, annuities, and other financial services products through more than 7,000 active independent sales representatives in 50 states. Focused on serving middle-income families, National Agents Alliance is the No. 1 United States provider of mortgage protection insurance and offers a broad array of other affordable products from highly regarded companies such as Mutual of Omaha, Foresters, and ING. Since its inception in 2002, National Agents Alliance has helped more than 670,000 families successfully apply for more than $78 billion in life insurance coverage. For more information about National Agents Alliance, visit http://www.nationalagentsalliance.com or call 1-866-752-1163.