Did you know:
- Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) affects approximately 1.8 million families in the United States
- CHDs are the most common birth defect and the leading cause of birth-defect related deaths worldwide
- Nearly twice as many children die from CHDs as from all childhood cancers combined, yet research for cancer receives five times the funding
- There are currently 35 distinct CHDs recognized
- There is no known cause for CHDs and there is no cure, only treatment, such as medicines, numerous surgeries and heart transplants.
- Each year an estimated 1 in 100 babies are born in the United States with a congenital heart defect
- 1 in 10 of those are born with a fatal defect
January, 2002 a man and a woman went to a routine 18-week ultrasound while pregnant with their third child. They came home to a message on their answering machine. "Something was seen on the ultrasound." The next eight months were an emotional and heartbreaking roller coaster. Their daughter was born on April 29, four weeks early, with several complex heart defects. After spending 32 days in the NICU she finally came home. The parents were told their precious baby would require heart surgery in the near future. The next two months were filled with doctor visits, echocardiograms, medicines, a fun family vacation and a move three hours "down south".
At 3 am on August 9, 2002, this man and woman loaded their 3-month old daughter into the car and drove 3.5 hours north for her open heart surgery. The next five days were a living nightmare for them. And on August 13, at only 101 days old, their daughter earned angel wings.
That "1" was our daughter, Allison Grace.
February 7 - 14 is "Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week". Raising national awareness about Congenital Heart Defects is important on so many levels—it will provide hope for families of CHD survivors and comfort to those whose loved ones have lost their battles; it will inform the general public about the symptoms of CHDs and possibly save lives; and it will affirm the need for researchers and medical professionals to continue their work to improve the outlook for CHD patients.
Here are a few ways you can help bring awareness to CHDs this February.
- As my long-time readers know, I blog every year about this important issue. If you blog, please make an entry this month helping raise awareness. You can even link to this entry.
- Place a button on your blog for the month.
- If you are on Facebook, become a fan of CHD Awareness Week 2010.
- If you are looking to give to a charity, think about donating to one that supports CHD research, such as the Children's Heart Foundation.
- If you give to the American Heart Association, put "Zachary Brooks Foundation" in the memo designating that your funds will go to a foundation set up specifically for CHD heart awareness and research.
- Wear red on February 14, not to represent cupid, but to remember those who are affected by CHDs.
- And if you have children, hug them a little tighter and thank God for the miracle and wonderful gift you have been given.