For every 100 babies born tomorrow, one will be born with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD). That is the equivalent to approximately 40,000 babies born with CHD every year in the United States. CHD is the most common birth defect in children born today; it devastates the lives tens-of-thousands of families every year.
If it is so common then why do so few people know about CHD?
CHD is a disease with very few outward signs. It’s very likely you know someone who has some form of a Congenital Heart Defect. Their heart defect may require little intervention, or perhaps they don’t even know about their heart defect. In some cases, sadly, CHD can be a silent killer. Sometimes a child, teenager, or even a young adult can suddenly experience heart failure due to an undiagnosed heart condition.
Heart defects range in widely in severity. Some are born with more mild defects that resolve with age, others can be diagnosed and corrected before the defect causes harm to the body. Some suffer from more complex defects like absent valves or chambers. About 25% of heart defects are considered “critical” and require at least one major open-heart surgery before the age of one year.
Forty years ago, babies born with more severe heart defects had little options for treatment available. These babies lived a short time before their hearts failed. Thirty years ago, experimental surgeries began to surface offering parents the possibility of a few precious years with their child.
Now, new and evolved surgical techniques, along with the dawn of pediatric heart transplant, have changed the field of pediatric cardiology. Approximately 69% of children with complex Congenital Heart Defects are now living to age 18 thanks to continued research and improved surgical treatments. In 40 years of research a diagnosis that had a 0% survival rate now has an 69% survival rate.
Imagine where continued research could take the field of cardiology in the next 40 years. We want to see every child born with CHD have a chance at a full life. A life spent outside the hospital without tubes, wires, and monitors.
Project Heart exists to fund CHD research to improve surgical outcomes for children with heart defects. We want to see treatments refined to result in quicker recovery times, shorter hospital stays, and more and more children living long into adulthood. Much research is still needed to help thousands of children across the nation living with CHD. When you donate to CHD research, you change lives.