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Emily Spain & Catie Critchfield's “special heart"

Five-year-old Catie Chritchfield, right, wears a bright pink, fuzzy hoodie, and stands next to her mother, Emily Spain, left, who is wearing a pale pink, fuzzy jacket and a Red Sox ball cap.
Becca Newton

Five-year-old Catie Critchfield and her mother, KOMU’s Emily Spain spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at a pop-up event at the Daniel Boone Regional Library on February 19th.

They taught us that February is Heart Month – a time to focus on cardiovascular health and spoke about why that's important their family.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

KBIA Producer Reagan Wiles: So, first question to ask you, “How old are you?”

Catie Critchfield: Five.

Reagan Wiles: You're five, okay? what's your favorite part about the library?

Catie Critchfield: Getting books?

Reagan Wiles: What's your favorite book to read?

Catie Critchfield: Hmm. Those Bob books. They’re little mini books that we read with bunch of stories, and there's like 100 books here!

I'm not in kindergarten yet, but I will be soon. I do learning at home on my computer of learning path on ABCmouse.

I like all the library books I get to read. I like coloring pictures, and I like painting and then like making cards – like rainbows and flowers.

Emily Spain: So, February is Heart Month, and Heart Month means a lot to our family. Katie, why is Heart Month special to our family?

Catie Critchfield: Because it's Valentine's Day.

Emily Spain: It's Valentine's Day, but what were you born with? What's special about you?

Catie Critchfield: A special heart.

Emily Spain: Katie was born with congenital heart disease.

Catie Critchfield: Yes, I was.

Producer Reagan Wiles, left, sits across a folding table from five-year-old Catie Critchfield.
Rebecca Smith

Emily Spain: Yeah. [laughs] Where do we have to go sometimes?

Catie Critchfield: Boston?

Emily Spain: Yeah. What do we do in Boston?

Catie Critchfield: Cat sand. Cat scans.

Emily Spain; Surgeries sometimes?

Catie Critchfield: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Surgeries.

Emily Spain: How does it make you feel when we go to the hospital?

Catie Critchfield: Just a little bit sleepy Because of those sleeping meds I get.

Emily Spain: Yeah, but how do you feel when we leave the hospital?

Catie Critchfield: Great!

Emily Spain: Good, and who do we see when we're at the hospital?

Catie Critchfield: Christina. She's a nurse, and I had a chest tube and she pulled it out, and I didn't feel it because they gave me sleeping meds.

Reagan Wiles: Is that ever scary for you?

Catie Critchfield: No! I didn't feel anything when they when she pulled it out.

Emily Spain: What makes you brave when we go to the hospital? He has a – he has a special heart. What's his name?

Catie Critchfield: Iron Man!

Emily Spain: Yeah, cause you have special heart.

Catie Critchfield: Yeah, and I have a toy named Iron Man when I left the hospital.

Emily Spain: Yeah. So, February is Heart Month. It just recognizes, raises awareness for congenital heart disease. It's the most common birth defect – 1 in 100 children are born with a heart defect.

So, Katie was born with what's called an “AV canal defect.” So, it's like a hole in the heart and an issue with a heart valve. So. she's had a few surgeries to deal with that, and most recently – she was she had to get a valve replacement and a pacemaker.

Reagan Wiles: That's awesome, Katie. Well, thank you very much for talking with us today. You did such a good job. Thank you so much!

Catie Critchfield: You're welcome!

Becca Newton is a student reporter and producer at KBIA. They will graduate from the University of Missouri in spring 2022 with a degree in Multimedia Convergence Journalism and minors in Peace Studies and History.