‘A Miracle in Front of Us Every Day’

When her parents ask Olivia Hammond of Bryan, TX, to show what her little brother’s heart looks like, the adorable 4 year old makes the familiar shape with both hands. Then she takes half of it away.

That’s a quick explanation of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a rare and serious congenital heart defect. Deacon Hammond, who just turned 2, has already had two open-heart surgeries as a result of it; a third surgery is on the horizon, and a future heart transplant is all but inevitable.

Deacon’s heart is on the mind of every grownup in his orbit. But the toddler himself only has time for dogs—especially Reveille, the American collie mascot of his hometown Texas Aggies—and for getting into his sister’s stuff. Both are fine with mom Brittany and dad Walt, if not Olivia, because that’s what normal 2 year olds do. And that’s how they’re raising their son.

“We’re not going to put him in a bubble,” Brittany said. “We want Deacon to experience and enjoy life, for however long life is. It’s not always easy to do, but that’s our goal … to not let him think that he is different in any way.”

What that looks like right now is a blur of motion. As with many newer to walking, Deacon prefers running. He chases his sister everywhere, with an enforced pause in the action only when Brittany or Walt glimpse a blue tinge in Deacon’s lips or fingers. “That’s when we know, ‘OK, he needs to sit down for a minute,'” Brittany said.

Hammond Family
Olivia Hammond, Deacon’s sister, demonstrates her understanding of HLHS, her brother’s congenital heart condition.

Because Deacon’s sternum-to-navel “zipper scar,” usually hidden under t-shirts, is the only outward sign of the complex Norwood and Glenn surgeries that make it possible for patients like him to survive, many who meet him think he’s doing great. This is true. And false.

“People see him and say, ‘Oh, he’s fine … he’s fixed,'” Brittany said. “But with kids like Deacon, the situation is inside. You can’t see it, and when you do see it, then it’s bad.”

With no ability to control when Deacon will need a Fontan procedure—the third of three repair surgeries for HLHS patients—or possibly a heart transplant in the future, the Hammonds have chosen instead to celebrate what Brittany describes as “the miracle manifesting in front of us every single day.” Deacon continues to meet and exceed milestones, and his doctors say they can’t believe how well he is doing.

Hammond Family
Deacon Hammond takes a break from feeding himself, which is a major developmental, and mess-making, milestone. 

Reflecting on his son, Walt, who is an ordained minister and the grandson, son and brother of pastors, said, “Deacon is made this way. There is a reason for it, whether we know it or not, and he is going to serve a greater purpose.”

While Walt knows that some families in the midst of a child’s health crisis simply can’t imagine a greater purpose—”A lot of people hate God in that moment,” he said—his faith and Bible training have been his mainstays.

Citing Hebrews 11:1, which describes faith as the ability to believe in things unseen, Walt said, “As a believer in God, I also rely on science for my son’s medical condition” —and he sees the God-given talents that Deacon’s medical team uses to repair his son’s heart and lengthen his life.

While Walt, Brittany and their families and friends continually pray for God to make Deacon’s heart whole, that has not happened. But as he watches Deacon motor across the living room in his pajamas, Walt quickly clarifies: “Our son may only have half a heart, but he is whole. He is amazing.”

Start a Personal Fundraiser to Help with Expenses

During Deacon’s health journey, Brittany and Walt used CaringBridge to update family and friends and a GoFundMe campaign for financial support. CaringBridge has partnered with GoFundMe to allow families to easily raise money in times of medical need. You can either start a personal fundraiser directly from your CaringBridge site or link an existing GoFundMe campaign to your CaringBridge site. Let your friends and family know that you need their financial support through journal posts and direct them to contribute by going to the Ways to Help section of your CaringBridge site.

  • Erin Theobald

    My great nephew has HLHS and is having his 3rd surgery August 1 he will be 7 mos old. Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Nerys Baiges

    Truly amazing. It goes to show how God loves you. He is fighting and your Faith is his strength. You as parents are his anchor. God Bless your daughter as she herself is starting to understand what is going on with her brother. Blessings to you all. We all have a story to tell and a unique journey. God Bless.

  • Jessica Roggers

    my prays with you 🙂

  • Brett

    My husband and I are currently expecting and found out a couple weeks ago our child has a single ventricle diagnoses. Your story is inspiring to me as we plan for this journey ahead. Like your family, I choose to trust that God will carry my family through the difficulties that we face and trust that this miracle child of ours if going to be strong just like your Deacon! Thank you again for sharing your families journey!

  • Charlotte Wade

    For several years I followed the postings of a dear friend who had a daughter born with this condition. Her surgeries were all in Germany, and so far so good. She is a creative, energetic, happy child. We don’t know what the future holds for her, and how long her parents will have her but it’s been an incredible journey so far. Her parents have had two more children born without the condition and their family is thriving. Their faith in God’s plan and power has been an inspiration. I don’t know you, but you are in my prayers.

  • Jacque Lange

    God bless you in your journey. I just read your story. I will pray for you. I believe in the power of prayer for I have been a recipient of many. God is good. God is love.?Jacque Lange

  • Gina Hart

    I stumbled upon your story on the front page of CaringBridge and the diagnosis Hypoplastic Left Heart jumped off the page to me. I felt compelled to write to you. My son Brock has HLHS also. He is 19 years old and had the same 3 surgeries Deacon has or will have. Please do not give up hope. These surgeries saved our son. And while we know that a heart transplant is always possible, Brock is proving his body can live on one ventricle. In 19 years, he has been cardiac healthy and has only needed minor interventions. A couple of cardiac caths along the way to check on the status of his heart has given us a sign of relief with each one. Brock graduated last May from High School and is looking into colleges now. I don’t know you or your family but I will pray that Deacon has the same results. You are so very blessed to have the care available to us to save our miracle babies. It wasn’t that long ago, there was minimal hope for HLHS. If you ever have questions or need to vent to a parent who understands the challenges and fears, feel free to reach out to me. You can find me on Facebook (St. Louis) or your can email me. Wishing the best for Deacon and his strong brave family.

  • Delisle


  • Barbara

    Deacon will be a part of my daily prayer life. I was born with a congenital heart condition. Not the same as Deacons . Nonetheless I knew I was not able to do alot of things like other children. I had open heart surgery @35 when my 3 children were young. I am now 61! My zipper is a reminder of Gods amazing grace and healing power. May Deacon be blessed with many many years to come❤

  • Brenda

    I love your story, because my granddaughter was born with HLHS. My granddaughter is 3 years old and has had two of the three operations. She is doing great and just this past weekend moved from her crib to a toddler bed. God is so good and I know that there is a bigger purpose that has put us on this journey. It has already been evidenced in our family and will continue to be. I pray too that my granddaughter Addison’s heart will be made whole some day, if not here on earth, then when she gets to heaven. Addi has brought such joy to our family, and by reading your story, your Deacon has to yours. I will keep Deacon and your family in my prayers. I hope I can continue to follow your story.

  • Bhavesh

    Nice post

  • Miche "Mish" Mehall

    We will be praying for Deacon!
    As a saved, Holy Spirit-filled Christian, I’ve known God to heal as well as create what was needed in difficult situations. What I know is that God knew Deacon before Deacon was born, therefore He knew what he’d be born with. And, He allowed it for His purposes. Tho we don’t know what those purposes are we trust and believe and walk out our faith in hopes of healing and full life, because as parents it’s what we want for our kids. Our job is to know God fully and to make him known and in the process we get to love, be loved, have a family and watch the love of Jesus grow for as long as we have with them. So..I’m praying for physical manifestation of God’s whole heart for Deacon, while you all enjoy living and growing in faith, patience, grace, forgiveness, humility and JOY..knowing that ALL of you are so loved by God and this very special community! Plus it helps that y’all are in Bryan, a wonderful close community of young as well as mature families, singles and empty- nesters! Love the “first-fridays”!! My daughter moved there for school, and in the 8 years there made such wonderful friends (being a roller derby girl helped, haha) that continue to be so very close despite the now-distance between!!! So…(Deacon, Olivia, Will and Brittany) Hammond family, know you’re loved by a few more folks today (in California!) who are added to an ever-growing circle of uplifted hands and hearts, in prayer for YOU!??

  • judy may siccama

    My daughter verbally introduced me to him………..(Carolyn Siccama) and I am very anxious to hear about him…………..more. She will be asking some questions about a project she wants to begin……..and she told me about it yesterday (3/ 10 / 2019)…….so will wait patiently to hear what she finds out…………Judy Siccama.

  • Don & Mabel Chupp

    My daughter is similar to your son. She is 19 now. She had B-T Shunt,Bi-Lateral Glen, and fontan surgeries. She has been doing great. Dr. have given her a clean bill of health. . . Then Feb 15th she went into SVT of 180. She had to be shocked to return to normal. She is back in normal rhythm, but will need to see a cardiologist about an ablation. time will tell. She is doing great with just little bumps in the road. Praying that you can get good reports.

  • Tara

    Prayers for complete healing for Deacon and strength of faith for his family. My niece had HLHS. They did not know until she was three months old. The ultrasound didn’t catch it during pregnancy. By that time transplant was the only sustainable option. She is 15 today and thriving! God does use this for his grace and I thank you for sharing it through Deacon.

  • Arjun Ghimire

    Nice it was helpful source dlapkmod.com

  • Nate Clark

    Life changing story. I will continue my prayers

  • Dinah B Richardson

    While visiting a friend on Caring Bridge, I saw your story and just said my first prayer for Deacon and also for you: Walt, Brittany and Olivia. I will not stop with this one by any means. I believe you are already doing this, but while during the past several years I cared for my beloved husband of 50 years , these Bible verses helped me put things in perspective. He had Lewy body dementia and I took care of him 24/7 until God came and took him home with Him in October. The verses that follow, among others, helped me to keep my focus on all of the blessings we had received over the years. May all four of you someday celebrate 50 wonderful God-given years of marriage too.

    “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18

  • Beth Hemingway

    My 10 year daughter has HLHS ( Has had the three stages surgeries ( Norwood, Glenn(6 months & age 3 Fontan ) Hang In there !!!! I know when she was younger it was really tough ( She actually had a G tube till age 4…. SHE HAS HALF A HEART, But She is SUPER STRONG , FEARLESS and the complete opposite of ( what a heart patient would act like) She is an Energizer Bunny !!:):):) Never Stops( Plays 4th grade basketball,Club Volleyball, Loves gym etc… is a fierce competitor in every area of her life. I thank God everyday for all the blessings he has given her. She is a true Miracle just like your son. We also say that she has half of a heart, when explaining HLHS, Sometimes not the easiest to explain. I pray your son Deacon’s 3rd ( the Fontan) goes well & Pray That his outcome is just like my daughter’s. ❤️?❤️ Stay Strong, Be Postive and Never Stop Believing Deacon will be ok !! From one ❤️Mom to another

  • Debra Spargur

    Prayers for little Deacon and his family that all work out according to his health and somehow another miracLe can happen to make his life lots better for a long life. God bless you all. My husband is a Pastor too. Keep your eyes on God no matter what happens down the road. He has you all in His sight. Keep trusting him. He placed Deacon specially in your family!

  • Lori Whitten

    Praying for Deacon and the whole family!! I have a friend who has a son who is also a heart patient!! God Bless you all!!

  • Vaughn Arlene

    Thank You ?

  • Marylan Mesimer Chapman

    I am unable to donate to Deacon’s care, but I am a strong pray-er and I will certainly pray for him. He is a beautiful child. Seeing all the pictures, your whole family is beautiful. Marylan 2-13-2019

  • Rose Martinez

    Hello Hammond Family,
    God has truly blessed you with this very special little precious baby boy! Deacon is God’s little messenger. I know your hearts as parents and all of what you are going through, as parents of our special little messenger Darlene, she was born as well with HPLH back in 1985, we believe that God gave and entrusted her to us, but for a short time. I praise God for the technology that He has given to special doctors now in this present time. Enjoy your precious baby boy. I truly believe that God has something to say to you both in loving and learning from Deacon. God bless you all and I also will be praying for you all. ?

  • Susan Saholt

    Praying for a miracle healing for Deacon, and for comfort, peace, and strength for him and for all family members.

  • Barb Heater

    I will pray for ur son and ur family. Children are so sweet & innocent and ur son is a doll!!!! Keep the faith!!!!

  • Peter Trippe

    Praying to Jehovah Rapah The LORD That Healeth ?

  • Pamela Jo Jones

    Praying for a miracle in your family. Praying for healing.

  • Allyson Clouden

    God does have a purpose for this situation in your son. Keep trusting. I’ll remember your family in my prayers . Your faith is inspirational!

  • Joyce

    To the dear family of Deacon,
    Oh how my heart goes out to you with love! Your precious child is a beautiful reflection of God. I love the following definition of children:
    “Children. The spiritual thoughts and representatives of Life, Truth, and Love.” – Mary Baker Eddy
    I have used this quote as a basis in praying for children with wonderful results. Your sweet boy is a complete expression of the God of Life and of Truth and of Love. Might I suggest focusing on the beautiful spiritual qualities Deacon expresses as his true substance while praying. This has also helped me in my prayers for children. I am knowing that God’s love and light surround you all.

    (SH 582:28)

  • Martha Kirkpatrick

    We’re praying for healing.

  • Linda Williams

    I have a grandson with the same condition they did not expect him to live but with much prayers and Gods help he is a happy and energetic boy of 12 yrs old still going strong. He too had 3 open heart surgeries. God is a healer I encourage you during this time nothing is impossible. Believe. Trust. All is well.

  • B redeniud

    My granddaughter is 10 and has the same condition, she had all three surgeries and is doing great. These kids wont over do it, they listen to their bodies. Pray they all live a full life with no transplant