JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. - Imagine sending your newborn baby into open-heart surgery -- that was the case for the Goins family in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Their son was born with part of his heart severely under-developed.
This week it's Congenital Heart Defect Awareness, and News 5 caught up with that little boy who says he was born with a very special heart.
Meet Mason Shelton-Goins. This 5-year-old is a burst of energy and all smiles. But what you don't know is Mason was born with a congenital heart defect. "[The defect was in his] hypo-plastic left heart, which is considered one of the most serious," said his mother Megan Goins.
At just three days old the little boy had his first open-heart surgery to rebuild his aorta. "I had yet to hold him and right before he was taken into surgery, they actually let me hold him. They did not want to take him without me holding him because the first surgery is very risky," she said.
An even scarier fact -- congenital heart defects are a leading cause of infant death according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Goins says life since then has been a challenge. Mason has had a total of six surgeries, even a stroke. But he's beating the odds. "It's not the end of the world, we're blessed. We are so blessed and we have to try to make his life as normal as we can," Goins said.
And this mom is on a mission to raise awareness by wearing a red and blue ribbon. It symbolizes both the oxygenated and un-oxygenated blood vital for babies born with congenital heart defects. "I just want people to see this ribbon and ask, 'What is that? What is it for?'," added Goins.
Even Mason knows why he wears the red and blue ribbon. "Because it's for my heart," he told us.
Here are some more facts about congenital heart defects: According to the CDC about 40,000 babies are born every year with congenital heart defects in the U.S. Most babies with CHD are living longer and healthier lives because of advancements in medicine and treatments.
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects.