I hadn’t heard the name Bowen Hammitt in a while, but as soon as I did, I remembered praying for him. Matt Hammitt (Santus Real) and his wife Sarah found out before their son’s birth that he had a rare, life-threatening disease called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, and that 30 percent of children with that diagnosis don’t reach their fifth birthday. So, why did I hear Bowen’s name today? It’s his fifth birthday.
Matt reflects on the event: “”It seems like just yesterday when Bowen was born, when so many friends and strangers opened up their hearts to our son. We are eternally grateful, not only for this milestone birthday, but also for every person and prayer that uplifted our family through a very difficult season.”
When Bowen was diagnosed in 2010, hundreds of media outlets and radio stations nationwide joined the Hammitts in praying for him. A blog called “Bowen’s Heart” was started by the Hammitts to chronicle the journey. The first post was brief: “Tucked away in ‘the heart of it all’, we’re a small town family that believe we are part of a bigger story. We’re not trying to impress anyone with fancy words, we’re just here to share our heart. His name is Bowen.”
Bowen’s story captured hearts all over the globe. His name means “small, victorious one”, and though his survival was uncertain prayers were lifted that his name would become his testimony. On September 9th, 2010, at 7:59 pm, Bowen was born.
The very next morning, he had his first surgery. Weeks in ICU followed, with moments both terrifying and gratifying.
One of many positive outcomes of the Hammitts’ journey is their launch of the Whole Hearts Foundation, established to meet the practical, financial, emotional, and spiritual needs of families with children suffering from congenital heart disease. The foundation put together a little thank-you video to celebrate the day. I hadn’t heard the name Bowen Hammitt in a while, but oh, I sure did smile watching him at the end of this video. He fidgets with the buttons on his shirt, announces, “Hello, my name is Bowen. Thank You,” darts his eyes upward toward an unseen cameraman, and then runs out of the room. Just like a happy 5-year-old should.