Woman raises money to honor late son born with heart defects

Mother honors late son with donation to new heart care unit
Brady Zgonina was born prematurely, with congential heart defects and down syndrome. (Source: Julie Spry)
Brady Zgonina was born prematurely, with congential heart defects and down syndrome. (Source: Julie Spry)
Brady passed away at the age of 3, following his ninth surgery. (Source: Julie Spry)
Brady passed away at the age of 3, following his ninth surgery. (Source: Julie Spry)
Julie decided to raise money in her son's honor to donate to the future Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. (Source: Norton Healthcare)
Julie decided to raise money in her son's honor to donate to the future Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. (Source: Norton Healthcare)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Kentucky woman who lost her child when he was just three years old wanted to do something to create a legacy for him. Now, she has reached her goal.

Julie Spry's son, Brady Zgonina, was born prematurely, with multiple congenital heart defects and down syndrome.

"I learned so much from him because with all that he had going on, all that he had to endure, he never complained, rarely cried. Was just very happy, very bright," Spry said.

In his three and a half years, he underwent nine surgeries. He was recovering at Norton Children's Hospital after his final heart surgery -- which was a success -- but his body couldn't recover.

Spry had to leave the hospital without her precious child. This year, he would have turned 10.

"This is the time, why don't I do something to maybe make a legacy for him," she said she asked herself.

She heard about the planned Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, which will be built on the fourth floor of Norton Children's Hospital. It will have 17 beds dedicated to children with acquired or congenital heart disease.

"It's important to have the availability to put all of our resources together," Dr. Deanna Tzanetos, of Norton Children's Hospital, said. "To have all of the nurses that have the same expertise in caring for these patients in close proximity to one another. Have all the physicians and therapists that care for these patients located in one area."

With the help of family, friends and a radio spot, Julie raised $32,000 to go to this new unit. That's enough money to put a plaque with Brady's name outside one of the rooms.

"I think it's going to feel like what most parents get to feel at birthdays and graduations and the first recitals and all those things that you experience that I didn't with Brady," Spry said. "This is going to be like those occasions. It's going to be like -- ok, we did it."

Brady's big brother also emptied his piggy bank to contribute to the cause.

So how can the public help?

The money raised from this year's Home and BMW Raffle will benefit the Jennifer Lawrence Foundation Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.

Tickets are just $100. They went on sale July 1. Only 12,000 will be sold.

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