For the past 17 years, there has been a national movement to promote congenital heart defect (CHD) awareness.
In 2000, the first CHD Awareness Day was observed by most of the 50 states.
Today, all 50 states, children’s hospitals, and many heart organizations now recognize February 7-14 as Congenital Heart Defect AwarenessWeek.
Why is awareness important?
There are many reasons. Most people know about children stricken with cancer and those who have muscular dystrophy.
The reason we all know something about these maladies is because they have great organizations promoting awareness.
CHD has never had that, and that has resulted in CHD having less money for medical research to help those who are born with broken hearts.
Do the one in 100 babies born with heart defects deserve less?
Nowadays, many babies born with CHD are diagnosed in utero; however, that is not the case for all.
If more doctors and parents are aware of the signs of CHD, more children can be saved from the number one killer of children under the age of one.
And, yes, there are doctors who are not aware of the advances in treatment of CHD, leading them to misinform their patients as to options available.
Many babies born with CHD are now growing up to be adults – with CHD. This is a disease that never goes away.
It is invisible to the naked eye but it is still there because there is not a cure.
Those born with complex heart defects who have survived to adulthood find it hard to get competent care because they need very specialized care, and in many cases it is not available.
For instance, there is not an adult congenital heart doctor in the Valley.
When our grown daughter needed to see a cardiologist when admitted to a local hospital, pediatric cardiologists in the area refuse d to see her because she was too old.
The standard cardiologist who treated her admitted that we knew more about her condition than he did. Awareness is so important for everyone!
Please help us spread CHD awareness during the week of February 7-14. Many children born with CHD have a mixing of their red and blue blood giving their skin a purplish tint.
For this reason, we ask everyone to wear purple on Friday, Feb. 10 in honor of all heart warriors and heart angels.
Tell everyone you are wearing purple to bring more awareness to this killer of our children.
More awareness will help bring more knowledge and more research.
Rita Scoggins Harlingen