Submitted by Barbara Kohler.
Most of us are aware that February is “Go Red for Women Heart Month.” In addition, I want to bring attention to Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week Feb. 7-14. CHDs are the most common type of birth defect-related deaths. According to the American Heart Association, 1 out of 100 children born have heart defects, roughly 40,000 babies in the U. S. annually. Some defects are a quick fix, but other defects are very serious and require immediate attention. These defects are in the structure of the heart and vessels of a newborn. Blood flows through the heart in an abnormal pattern.
My grandson is one of the 1 in 100 babies born with five heart defects in 2019. Undiagnosed, it was a complete shock to everyone. He needed immediate attention to survive. He has had three open heart surgeries so far and more are being planned. Twenty years ago it would not have been a happy ending. He is thriving due to the expertise and skills of the doctors, the many prayers around the country, and the courage and strength of his parents dealing with all his needs, meds, therapies and constant trips to the hospital. The little guy is now 22 months old and doing quite well.
In 1996, the Children’s Heart Foundation was formed and is the country’s leading organization dedicated to funding CHDs lifesaving research. They host several fundraisers throughout the country during the year. Through 2020 the Children’s Heart Foundation has funded nearly $14 million of CHD research and scientific collaborations – driving breakthroughs that have improved survival rates, longevity and quality of life for individuals living with CHDs in life-changing ways. Additionally, they provided start-up funding for research that has earned the support from the National Institutes of Health. They are saving lives and placing children at the heart of research.