Motherhood brings Joy, Grace and Faith to woman with congenital heart defect

Born with a heart defect, Debbie McFarland underwent numerous heart surgeries throughout her life, and was told she shouldn’t become pregnant. But then, she came to the Akron Children’s Hospital Heart Center, and found that her type of congenital heart defect, known as Tetralogy of Fallot, did not pose a high risk during pregnancy.

Under the care of Dr. John Lane, director of the hospital’s Adult Congenital Heart Service, as well as maternal-fetal cardiologist C.R. Patel and Akron Children’s high-risk obstetricians, Debbie has delivered three healthy girls – Joy, 6, Grace, 5, and Faith, 16 months.

Debbie and her husband, Joshua, also adopted a son, Jeffrey, when he was 10 and Joy was a toddler.

“When my husband and I first met we both knew we wanted to help troubled youth and wanted to adopt,” said Debbie.

In addition to handling a bustling household, Debbie, who has a degree in social work, began working in registration at Akron Children’s ER in Montrose in July 2008. When Faith goes to school, Debbie plans to pursue a master’s degree to provide counseling in the ER setting, where she can use her unique perspective as both a patient and parent.

As far as ongoing treatment, Debbie sees Dr. Lane once a year for routine check-ups. And since she has a pacemaker, she also sees Dr. John Clark, director of the Akron Children’s Hospital Arrhythmia Center.

Although Debbie’s heart may not be perfect, it’s filled with Joy, Grace, Faith – and especially love – for the four children she thought she would never have.

In 2007, Debbie shared her story in this hospital video.

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