RICHMOND, Va. -- As an EMT in Richmond, using CPR to save lives is a typical part of the job for Tiffany Hirsch.
All personnel at Richmond Ambulance Authority are also trained in infant CPR, and the first time Hirsch actually used that training was to bring her newborn son back to life.
“It is what saved his life,” she said.
Tiffany and Matt Hirsch are high school sweethearts who live in New Kent County.
After four years of marriage, Tiffany said she convinced Matt to start their family.
At their 20-week ultrasound, doctors broke the news that their baby had been diagnosed with congenital heart defects that would require open-heart surgery soon after his birth.
“Throughout our whole pregnancy, we knew that he had a heart defect, that he had multiple heart defects,” Tiffany said. “Shocking, overwhelming, terrifying, you know sadness, guilty. I think you go through just about every emotion possible when you find out something was wrong with your child.”
Their son Greyson is now a happy, adventurous eight-month-old baby, but the family’s journey to this point took a turn on July 11, 2020, shortly after Greyson's birth.
“We had noticed in the morning, that he was a little junkier than normal when he was breathing,” Matt said. “Then, I was feeding him, and while I was feeding him, he started turning blue, stopped breathing, couldn’t find a pulse on him, so I ran and got her.”
“To this day still, it’s extremely hard. Nobody ever, ever thinks that will happen to them, let alone their own child,” Tiffany said. “When he came and got me, things happened so, so quick. What do you do? How do you react? For me, it just kind of kicked right in: the first responder in me and performing CPR on him.”
Tiffany was able to revive Greyson’s pulse and breathing until emergency crews arrived at their home.
“We live in New Kent. The closest hospital was 30-minutes away. Without it, we probably wouldn’t be here,” Matt said.
“Yeah, he wouldn’t be here without the early intervention of CPR,” Tiffany replied.
What came next, the family documented with photographs and painful memories.
Greyson and his parents spent 25-days in the hospital after open-heart surgery and a period of recovery. For 12 of those days, they could not hold Greyson.
“I was such a wreck that I could not stay in the room at that time. I was crying on the floor outside of his room,” Tiffany said. “He did suffer a paralyzed right vocal cord from the open-heart surgery, which is one of the risks involved with that.”
At RAA headquarters Wednesday, Greyson showed few signs of what occurred during the early months of his life. With bright eyes and giggles, he played with toys, took a bottle, and tugged repeatedly at Matt’s beard and Tiffany’s hair.
“He’s very talkative. He does cry. We’re very thankful to hear that cry,” Tiffany said. “We’ve been told he won’t require any more open-heart surgeries, but there’s always the chance of being a cardiac baby with his problems that he has.”
The Hirsch family wanted to share their story because February 7 -14 is Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Week.
CHD affects more than 1.3 million infants each year, according to Project Heart.