Eight kids a day are born with childhood heart disease in Australia, and each week four don't survive. Yet childhood heart disease, otherwise known as CHD or congenital heart disease, remains one of the most misunderstood and misrepresented health related issues in Australia. It is the biggest cause of death of babies under 12 months of age, yet has no known cure.
On 14 February, 2017, HeartKids is asking the public to support these tiny hearts as part of its national Sweetheart Day awareness and fundraising campaign.
As Australia's only charity solely dedicated to supporting kids and families with childhood heart disease, whilst funding vital research, HeartKids is using 2017 to raise awareness about the issues relating to CHD, its prevalence and why it is Australia's leading cause of death amongst babies. The organisation also aims to honour the network of dedicated family support coordinators who work tirelessly to deliver critical emotional and practical support to parents in hospital at a time when they are at their most vulnerable.
According to HeartKids CEO, Mark Brooke, 'Every day in hospitals around the country, soon-to-be parents are receiving life-changing news about their unborn baby, and face the daunting task of having to balance the joy of being a new parent with the knowledge that their child is likely to face multiple operations, including delicate open heart surgery, often within days of being born. Our role at HeartKids is to be there for these families as their child faces the gruelling journey of living with a heart defect that they will face for the rest of their life."
In 2017, blue hearts will symbolise Sweetheart Day, and HeartKids is encouraging everyone to support its #8toomany blue heart campaign so that CHD stays firmly on everyone's radar. Through public donations, HeartKids is hoping to raise $704,000 to expand its specialised family support services that are not government funded, and yet are a lifeline for the thousands of families each year that turn to HeartKids for assistance during this incredibly difficult time.
By making a donation or purchasing blue heart merchandise, everyone can be "sweethearts" on February 14, which also happens to be Valentine's Day.
Childhood heart disease is not a single condition; it includes a wide range of heart defects, which a child is born with or develops in childhood as a result of other illnesses. In some cases it will require major heart surgery, while for others it will remain undiagnosed until adolescence or adulthood.
Families of babies born with heart defects endure enormous emotional and financial stress and the news is often received without warning. Having surgery is not a cure. Children with childhood heart disease will face unique challenges for the rest of their lives and for many, this will include ongoing medical treatment and repeated heart surgeries.
For more information about HeartKids Sweetheart Day 2017, to make a donation or to fundraise, visit www.sweetheartday.org.au.