1 in 5 Minnesota families with children have a child or youth with complex health care needs or disabilities. These families struggle to get information about the services and support their child needs.They are challenged to learn how to navigate complex systems of care. They often feel isolated and need someone who really understands.
This may describe you and your family and we want to provide information that empowers you on your health care journey. Family Voices of Minnesota staff are all parents of children, youth and young adults living with complex needs and disabilities, we truly understand.
Nick Zerwas isn't supposed to be alive today. He was a heartbeat away
from death at birth in 1980, born with a three-chambered heart instead of four. Even after doctors performed a risky operation to get his heart to pump oxygenated blood to his lungs, their prognosis
was gloomy: Nick wouldn't live past his seventh birthday. He did.
In 9th grade, Nick unexpectedly discovered a memorial page in his school's yearbook that classmates dedicated to him. Witnessing his struggles with life-threatening heart problems, they didn't expect him to celebrate his "sweet 16" birthday. He did.
He was still around for his high school graduation, too, when he told his classmates: "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today, the present, is a gift." Today, in the present, Nick's life is a gift to many who are inspired by "The Gift Of An Open Heart," his autobiographical chronicle of a courageous confrontation with mortality. As a child, Nick says he longed to be "just like the other kids."
But he wasn't. Throughout his first 18 years, he endured nine open heart surgeries and countless months in the hospital. Now, 34 years-old - after 10 open-heart surgeries, a two-and-a-half-year wait for a heart transplant and two strokes - Nick's life is "normal," his heart "too healthy" for a transplant. Nick is in his 2nd term in the MN House of Representatives. Nick Serves on the Public Safety Policy and Finance committee and the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy committees where he advocates for crime victims and access to healthcare.
Register now to hear Represenative Zerwas' remarkable story at Family Voices 4th Annual Connecting Hearts, Raising Voices Benefit on Thursday, October 15 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm.