This week spotlights the need for awareness and increased funding for research for Congenital Heart Defects (CHD's). Did you know that it was CHD week? Probably not... because awareness for this #1 cause of death in infants is not widely advertised.
Every year 40,000 babies are born with a CHD. Half of them will need an invasive heart surgery sometime in their youth, while thousands will never make it to their first birthday and thousands more will not make it to adulthood. Almost half of those who have a congenital heart defect have a more complex CHD and will also suffer from neurological or developmental disability, much like my Gabriella. There are 40+ kinds of CHD's recognized but no prevention or cure for any of them.
Early screening can help save infants born with an undetected CHD. By simply requesting Pulse-Oximetry while in the first days at the hospital, a congenital heart defect can be detected. Efforts of the heart community, and especially a sweet friend Kristine , and one day this will be a requirement.
Gabriella suffered from Restrictive & Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.... which is the leading heart disease leading to heart transplants. It is also the leading cause of sudden cardiac death in adolescent athletes. It is silent and unpredictable, unless increased screening becomes normal practice. We were given the opportunity to find Gabriella's condition because of an attentive pediatrician, but that is not always the story for all cases.
The best news though is that just recently, the statistics show that 50% of the CHD survivors are adults, meaning children and youth are growing and living longer with their CHD's! Walking past you in the mall, sitting by you in the theater, there are 2million people, adults and children, walking around with a CHD. Did you know, my sister is a CHD survivor adult (minor CHD) who is a dancer and happily married 25 year old woman. CHD lives everywhere.
Spread the word, share this blog with your friends. With medical advances and increased awareness, more and more people will survive their congenital heart defect and live to do great things! By the grace of God, our Gabriella is one of them!!! Pray for the warriors fighting through their CHD, and pray for the angels gone to be whole in heaven.