Spotlight On: Annie Garcia, Axiom Attorney and OpHeart Founder

All of our Axiom Attorneys have fascinating stories to tell about the colorful lives they live outside of the orange days they spend at Axiom. But this week’s story is so especially touching and amazing that it needed to be shared on our Orange Pages.

Annie Garcia is a Houston Attorney who began working with Axiom in January 2015 and is currently engaged at a computer technology company doing M&A work. “I love the flexibility and work/life balance that Axiom gives me along with the opportunity to earn an income all while doing sophisticated legal work. It’s the trifecta of law practice for a mom and attorney,” she says. As a mom and an Axiom attorney, Annie already wears a few different hats; but these days, she has an even more admirable role- the founder of OpHeart.

OpHeart is a non-profit organization focused on improving the lives of children and infants with CCHD, critical congenital heart defects. OpHeart works to accomplish this by providing pediatric care teams with the tools they need to perform at their best as well as providing families with the resources they need to make the best choices for their children. How did this miraculous organization get its start?

Annie’s daughter Ari was born in June 2014 with a CCHD that went undiagnosed for 6 weeks after her birth. When she was finally admitted into intensive care, Annie was told Ari could have potential brain damage that wouldn’t necessarily be evident as an infant and wasn’t even able to hold her daughter for nearly 2 months. Now, 11 months later, Ari is a healthy, thriving baby girl and Annie and her husband took their experiences and created an impactful non-profit. What began as a difficult time for a strong and loving family became an organization that is making incredible strides in the medical community.

“A lot of children don’t make it past their first year; CCHD is the number one cause of death for children under one-year-old. OpHeart’s primary goal is to get better cardiac pediatric treatment by providing pediatricians with the best tools available. Currently we are focused on 3D printing; there is an incredible benefit for a surgeon to have a model of a child’s heart before they go into surgery and OpHeart wants to bring awareness to the technology on a public scale,” Annie says.

In addition to research and technology, OpHeart is currently working on various fundraising efforts and campaigns. News outlets like the New York Times and the Huffington Post have also brought awareness to OpHeart and the CCHD community in recent articles. “We have a big event coming up on August 28th; it will be a champagne toast to celebrate the anniversary of Ari’s reparative surgery. In October we are also planning to present at a 3D printing conference in Houston,” she says. A percentage of the funds raised through all these efforts will go to a collaborative study that OpHeart is project managing with children’s hospitals in Texas, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Phoenix.

Annie and Ari’s remarkable journey with OpHeart would not be possible without a few key ingredients: their strength and determination, Annie’s legal experience and analytical skills… and Axiom. “Axiom has changed my life; to be able to work as a lawyer and still have time to take my daughter to physical therapy and be there for her during this critical time in her life is an option I never thought I would have. This paradigm that you could earn a salary in the realm of big law and still own your life didn’t exist before Axiom,” she says.

To find out more information about OpHeart, how to get involved or to make a donation, click here.

To read all about OpHeart in the Huffington Post, click here.

Ari after her reparative surgery last year.

Ari after her reparative surgery last year.

Ari, happy healthy and thriving months later.

Ari, happy healthy and thriving months later.