February 2021 – Preemie Professional Highlight

Jodi Smith, Esq.
Program Director/Non-Profit Director, The Mended Hearts, Inc.
“Little hearts hold big hopes.” That’s the Mended Little Hearts’ tagline, and it’s so fitting! – Jodi Smith, Esq.

PREEMIEWORLD: How long have you been working in your field?
JODI: 16 years

PREEMIEWORLD: Why did you choose your current profession?

JODI: My son was born with a severe structural heart defect and had to have three open-heart surgeries–two as an infant, and one at 3-years old. I had a background in leadership training and law, and I wanted to use my skills to give back and help families like mine. I wanted to make sure that others like me had support from people who knew firsthand how it felt to have a child diagnosed with a life-threatening heart condition and to have a baby undergo open-heart surgery. That support gives hope and helps people understand they are not alone.

PREEMIEWORLD: What do you want other professionals to know about what you do?

JODI: Using a difficult, and often painful experience, to help others can be incredibly healing. Working for a non-profit has allowed me to make a difference in the lives of so many people and raise awareness of issues that affect babies and their parents and families. Also, I have been able to use my voice to advocate for myself and others to drive new therapies and treatment options for children everywhere and to improve health and well-being. Some days, especially when we lose children and adults born with heart defects, this work is so hard, but others days, when I get to see a child “rocking his or her scar” or the relief on a parent’s face when they realize that others have walked this path and are there to help them, it makes it all worth it. I feel very lucky to do what I do. It’s not glamorous or glitzy, but it’s compassionate and caring, and that’s what makes the world a better place at the end of the day.

PREEMIEWORLD: What advice do you give to preemie parents?

JODI: My best piece of advice is when your baby is in the NICU, there will be moments where you will feel you can’t bear it another minute–or another second–but you can. Take a deep breath and bring yourself into right here and right now. Then, take the next breath. Don’t focus on what’s ahead and the what ifs–they can make you crazy. Just take it one moment at a time. And know that many of us are here to support you.

PREEMIEWORLD: Fun Facts: Tell us a fun or quirky fact about you.

JODI: I have watched every Marvel movie in chronological order (not when the movie was made, but when it took place chronologically), and I would do it again.

PREEMIEWORLD: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

JODI: I think it’s so important that we come together to make a difference where we can. We are more powerful together, and we could all use support sometimes as non-profit leaders. I want to thank you all for the work you are doing to make a difference. It matters.

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