Laura Eckert, Sartell
Feb. 7-14 is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, a designated week in February (which is American Heart Month) to recognize people born with heart defects, to remember loved ones who lost their battle to congenital heart defects and to honor the dedicated health professionals who work with us. The city of Sartell has also declared Feb. 7-14 as Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. I encourage Sartell residents to join in this special observance and to take a moment to look at information regarding congenital heart defects. We can all help heal a broken heart affected by CHDs by trying to understand them and join together to support the fight against them.
Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week is important to me because I have a goddaughter with a rare CHD known as Scimitar Syndrome. She has had two invasive surgeries since birth to help correct complications from this CHD. Today she is a happy and healthy second-grader.
CHDs are the No. 1 birth defect and cause more infant deaths than all childhood cancers combined. Nearly 1 in 100 babies born in the United States is born with a CHD.
Children born with CHDs may have hearts that have incomplete or missing parts, may be put together the wrong way, may have holes between chamber partitions or may have narrow or leaky valves or narrow vessels. There are more than 40 different types of CHDs. Little is known about the cause of most of them and little is known on how to prevent them. CHDs can range from types that pose a relatively small threat to the health of the child to those that require immediate surgery. More than half of all children born with a CHD will require at least one invasive surgery in their lifetime.
The advances in diagnosis and treatment of CHDs have led to dramatic increases in survival for children with serious heart defects. There are approximately 1.4 million children and adults living with CHDs in the United States today. It’s these children and adults who inspire the rest of us to join efforts to help heal all the broken hearts affected by CHDs.