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Songs aim to comfort families

Told that his unborn son had only half a heart and little chance to survive, the lead singer of the Christian rock band Sanctus Real began pouring his fears and doubts into music.

The songs were meant to comfort his family while they searched for answers and sought to understand God's role during the months before and after the baby's birth that were filled with surgeries and life-threatening complications.

It didn't take long for him to realize that his words needed to be shared so that others struggling with life would know they're not alone.

What came out of the heartache was "Every Falling Tear," a solo album that's meant to touch and console during the hardest of times.

"People want to know that their pain has a purpose," said Matt Hammitt, one of the founding members of Sanctus Real, a band with two Grammy-nominated albums since 2008.

"That's the biggest part of sharing our story," he said. "That there is a purpose."

Hammitt and his wife, Sarah, knew something was wrong minutes after finding out during an ultrasound in April 2010 that their third child would be a boy, following two girls. They saw the sorrow on their doctor's face even before she spoke.

Doctors later confirmed the baby had a rare congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which causes the left side of the heart to be severely underdeveloped. For five months, the couple contemplated all of the possible procedures and treatments while weighing the odds of what could go wrong.

Their baby would face multiple surgeries and an uncertain future at best.

They also didn't know how to deal with a flood of emotions -- the anger, the doubt, the feeling of being alone. Hammitt, 32, decided he needed to tell God how he was feeling, so he started writing songs about their journey.

The song from "Every Falling Tear" that means the most to Hammitt is "Trust," a worship song that reminds people not to lose faith "even in the darkness, even in the questions, even when the hardest times of life are at hand."

Bowen Matthew Hammitt was born on Sept. 9, 2010. His first open heart surgery came four days later and the next night he went into cardiac arrest.

Complications and a stroke kept him in the hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., for just over two months.

Now, the Hammitts want to take their work a step further by starting the Whole Hearts Foundation, a source of financial, emotional and spiritual help for families with children suffering from congenital heart defects. They see the foundation becoming their life's work.

Bowen, who remains at risk, turned 1 in September and faces one more surgery now slated for 2013 to repair his heart. Eventually, he'll likely need a new heart.

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