By Drew Kern
Challenges are a part of life’s growing experience. The key is to maintain balance in other facets of our lives while overcoming these obstacles. I have had my fair share of challenges, but by far the most difficult one I have faced is when my youngest son, now 2 years old, was born with Pulmonary Artesia with Ventricfular Septal Defect and Atrial Septal Defect (VSD and ASD). Simply put, he had no pulmonary valve to carry blood to the artery and on to his lungs. My experience with this difficult episode has had a silver lining, however. My profession, ultimately, gave me the stamina to continue taking care of my family.
My wife had a normal pregnancy; ultrasounds did not detect any abnormalities or defects. With one already healthy son, we had no cause to worry about the second. However, within seconds of Justin’s birth, the doctors observed Justin was pale and was not breathing properly. A couple of hours later, he was diagnosed and air lifted to Miami Children’s Hospital, where he would spend the first 30 days of his life. After several exploratory cardiac catheters, at 9 days old, he underwent open-heart surgery to repair the defect. A conduit was placed into his right ventricle. Having never expected or experienced anything like this in my life, I was in shock.
MANAGING THE SITUATION
In the midst of this crisis, I knew that I had to continue working. While my clients were sympathetic to my situation, I still felt compelled to deliver the service they expected from me. As often as I could, I conducted business over the phone in my son’s hospital room, negotiating contracts and closings. While I was thankful for the support from my assistants and colleagues, it was important for me to still be in constant contact with my clients.
During Justin’s hospitalization, I rarely left his side. I remember taking a new listing in what was still a very active Coral Gables market. From my cell phone in the cardiac ICU, I set up an open house one evening that would only last one-and-one-half hours. (I wouldn’t leave Justin for longer than that). I told everyone who wanted to see the home that they needed to be there during that time. The most amazing part was that the seller received six offers, one of which resulted in a sale. It turns out my circumstances and the sense of urgency I created as a result actually benefited my client.
I am grateful that I have a career that enables me to continue to work and care for my son. I had to keep working so that I could support my family and pay the medical bills, but I was surprised to discover that my work was not just necessary, but also therapeutic. I love working in real estate, and that passion has helped me in ways I never expected. By allowing me the opportunity to speak with people other than doctors and nurses, I found a sense of normalcy in an otherwise chaotic existence. My job provided me with a fresh perspective and helped keep me focused.
About a month ago, Justin had a second open-heart surgery. I was, once again, in the hospital with him for several days while my wife took care of our 4-year-old son. As in times past, my business was an outlet. I did what I had to but, more importantly, what I wanted to do. I never dreamed a personal challenge could turn into such a positive experience and teach me so much about my career.
While I am proud of my professional accomplishments, it does not compare to the pleasure of seeing Justin continue to thrive since his recent surgery. We feel we are extremely blessed with a strong faith in God and an incredible support system of friends and family. We will forever be indebted to the incredible doctors, surgeons and nurses of the Pediatric Cardiology Department of Miami Children’s Hospital. Justin will celebrate his 2nd birthday this month.
Drew Kern is a top-producing agent at Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell (EWM), qualifying for its most elite Chairman’s Club membership in the Diamond Level with his volume of sales placing him in the top 0.5 percent of 1 percent, nationally. Kern has been in real estate for 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida State University.