Gabe Greenberg of Delmar has been part of the American Heart Association family since he first “flipped the switch” at SEFCU to symbolically illuminate the Capital Region red on Wear Red Day in February 2018. That was on his second birthday.
This Sunday, June 5, at 10:15 a.m. at the W. Averell Harriman State Office Campus in Albany, Gabe will serve as the Heart Hero of the Capital Region Heart Walk and Run.
“After a normal pregnancy, our second son, Gabriel Greenberg, was born on Feb. 4, 2016. He was born blue, meaning that he didn’t have enough oxygen. Albany Med’s neonatal team gave him extra oxygen support, and his levels climbed up to where they should be,” said Gabe’s father, Michael Greenberg, senior mortgage processor at SEFCU. “The team also detected a heart murmur, which his pediatrician heard the next day, and ordered an echocardiogram.”
Greenberg and his wife, Melissa Greenberg, a registered nurse at Albany Med, soon learned that their son had two congenital heart defects, Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia, and Major Aortopulmonary Collateral Arteries (MAPCAS).
“When Gabe was two days old, he had his first cardiac catheterization,” Melissa Greenberg said. “We were referred to Boston Children’s Hospital, and Gabe has his second cardiac catheterization when he was 7 weeks old. The next week, he had his first open-heart surgery. He had his second when he was 17 months old.”
Now an active kindergartner, Gabe has had 12 cardiac catheterizations. More open-heart surgeries lie ahead as he grows out of his surgically placed hardware.
Today, Gabe enjoys ballet, T-ball and soccer. He regularly stars in homemade videos in which he explains how different body organs (like the heart) work, or explains different disease states. Heather Rogers, a graphic designer with CDPHP and also a Heart Walk participant, created a coloring page for the Kids Zone at the Heart Walk that features a heart with Gabe’s signature red glasses.
“Children like Gabe are an inspiration to us all,” said Jennifer Corcoran Conway, a partner at Tully Rinckey, chair of the Capital Region Board of Directors of the American Heart Association, and also a parent of a child born with a congenital heart defect. “One in 110 children is born with a heart defect. It’s our honor to honor Gabe at this year’s Heart Walk, and remind participants and the public that heart disease affects babies.”
“Gabe’s an active part of the local Cardiac Kids group of the American Heart Association, which connect him with other kids facing similar challenges,” Michael Greenberg said. “Our whole family has been involved with the AHA since We help raise awareness for congenital heart defects and fundraise to help gain vital research dollars to help others, like Gabe, fight this disease affecting 1 out of every 110 children.”
To be part of the Heart Walk, visit CapitalRegionHeartWalk.org.