Big Hearts Helping Little Hearts – CHD Awareness Week
CHD Awareness: February 7th through the 14th is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Congenital heart defects are America’s #1 birth defect and are the #1 cause of birth defect related deaths. Nearly 1 out of every 100 babies is born with a CHD.
This is Carson. At six weeks old, Carson went into sudden cardiac and respiratory arrest at home. He was resuscitated and placed on a ventilator, and we were told that he was in heart failure with a cardiac output “incompatable with life”. He was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect known as ALCAPA (Anomalous Left Coronary Artery from the Pulmonary Artery) that was not detectable in utero and did not present with any signs or symptoms until he suffered a myocardial infarction (heart attack).
He underwent emergency corrective open heart surgery to repair the defect. Although the surgery was successful, Carson’s heart sustained permanent damage that will require treatment with medication for the rest of his life. Today, with the help of that medication, Carson’s heart function is “normal”. He is an active and vibrant toddler who loves to play and often gets into mischief.
Carson is one of the lucky ones. This year alone, almost 35,000 babies will be born with a congenital heart defect. 3,500 of them will not live to see their first birthday. 91,000 lives are lost each year in this country due to congenital heart defects. There are 35 different types of CHDs. Little is known about the cause of most of them. There is not yet a cure for ANY of them.
The impact of having a child with a CHD can be devastating to families. More than 50% of all children born with a CHD will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime, and the cost for inpatient surgery to repair congenital heart defects exceeds $2.2 billion a year. Despite the fact that congenital heart defects occur frequently and are life threatening, research into them is grossly underfunded. In the US, twice as many children die from congenital heart defects each year than from all forms of childhood cancer combined, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHD.
How You Can Help
Walk with the Heart of a Child, a 3k walk to benefit Children’s Heart Foundation, is about making a difference to the littlest of hearts. Last year’s event was Team Carson’s debut. We successfully met our fundraising goals and received the “Work of Heart Award” from Children’s Heart Foundation for our efforts. We hope to surpass last year’s fundraising amount this year. By supporting Team Carson, you honor children who are survivors, pay tribute to the lives lost to heart defects and raise money to fight them.
Donate to Team Carson to support their participation in the Walk with the Heart of a Child Walk by clicking here!
Tara G., author of this piece, is Carson’s mommy. She has been working diligently to raise awareness of and funding for CHD.
**all CHD facts were taken from Children’s Heart Foundation’s website with permission.