You are driving down the road and see a billboard with a child from the shoulders up. There is a small logo, but it is too far away to make out – yet you still recognize what the message is for because of one major visual cue. The child is smiling and has everyday clothes on but has no hair. You immediately know this is an advertisement about cancer and more specifically you probably think St. Jude.
However, if the same advertisement was put up of a child with a congenital heart disease the same instant reaction would not occur. Even if in the advertisement the child had their shirt off, exposing their zipper scar, many people would not immediately think of congenital heart disease. How can this be? Why is the awareness not there for congenital heart disease (CHD) when 1 in 100 children are born with it? Why do people not know that CHD is the most commonly occurring birth defect?
Pediatric cancer research is 5 times higher than CHD research. Yet, twice as many children die from CHD each year than all forms of childhood cancer combined. This is due to the lack of awareness for congenital heart disease. Not many people outside the heart community know about this common disease that turns people’s lives up side down. They do not know about the weeks in the hospital, the reason you are a “germophobe,” or why your child is tinted blue. There are too many lives lost and right now there is no cure for congenital heart disease. Only temporary fixes, often in the form of multiple heart surgeries at a young age. So then, how can we change that?
Research. We need congenital heart disease research to provide kids and adults with better quality of life. 40 years ago, most children with complex CHD died within days of birth. Through research, surgeries like the Norwood procedure were created and now save lives. Many children born with congenital heart disease that survive the surgeries are now able to live a semi-normal life to adulthood because of this research. However, that road is often filled with the bumps of multiple surgeries and sometimes somewhat limited activity level. CHD is lifelong, but we want to make a change. Individuals living with CHD should have the same opportunity to live to an old age!
The live-saving surgeries that came about just a few decades ago came about during a time when there was very little funding for CHD and limited technology compared to today. Now – imagine what could be done in the way of advancement if congenital heart disease research had proper funding. The sky is the limit! We hope to eradicate congenital heart disease in this life time but that can only be done through research. Research requires funding, and that’s where you come in.
We need YOUR help. You can donate and your contribution will be used directly for congenital heart disease research and the spread of awareness. You can spread the word and encourage those around you to donate. Start a fundraiser and help people with CHD right now and help in making advancements for those born with CHD in the future. Congenital heart disease research matters. I ask you to donate, to spread awareness and to help us defeat CHD. Together, we can make a difference!