On behalf of our daughter, Gabriella, and the 40,000 babies born each year in the United States with a Congential Heart Defect, we want to thank the town of West Hartford for formally recognizing the week of February 7-14 as Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week.
We are especially grateful to Mayor Scott Slifka for issuing the Proclamation, and to Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor for presenting this special recognition to our family and others who are living with a CHD. A special thank you to Kristine Hedberg, owner of Ben & Jerry’s in West Hartford, for graciously hosting the event, and to our friends the Kerrigan Family for helping to promote CHD Awareness.
The week offered us a perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the devastating impact CHD has on children, adults and families, and the need for more research, funding and education.
In 2003, our daughter was born with a CHD known as Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), in which the wall that separates the upper heart chambers does not close completely – basically a hole in the wall. As is typical with an ASD, there were no symptoms, so we were shocked when during a routine medical checkup for a cough four years later, a heart murmur was detected in her heart. Our daughter underwent open heart surgery at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center to repair her heart. Her surgery was a success and we are still amazed by how quickly she recovered. Five days later she was running down the halls of the hospital and playing with her little sister. We are forever indebted to the wonderful and skillful surgeon, her cardiologist, Dr. Felice Heller, and the whole team of doctors, nurses, child life specialists and staff of Connecticut Children’s who were so wonderful and caring, helping with her care and recovery. We are inspired by Gabriella everyday thank God for bringing her into our lives.
Congenital Heart Defects affect 1 out of 100 babies. For children and adults with a CHD, this can be a time of overwhelming heartache and despair. But there is hope. If detected early, most heart defects can be corrected or helped with surgery, medicine, or devices, such as artificial valves and pacemakers. In the last 25 years, advances in treatment of heart defects have enabled half a million U.S. children with significant heart defects to survive into adulthood.
If you have a child diagnosed with a CHD, there are a number of organizations which can provide you with information, support and resources. One such organization, Little Hearts, Inc. is a national non-profit based in Connecticut. They were there to provide my husband and me with support with support and comfort during a difficult time. For more information on CHD and resources available: www.littlehearts.org,
We are so grateful to have had Connecticut Children’s there for us, and we are blessed to live in such a wonderful and supportive town. Last week West Hartford celebrated all children born with a CHD. We had a wonderful evening celebrating all the Gabriellas, Overs, Avas, Robbys, Jacobs and Amys born with a CHD.
Thank you to everyone who came out to support CHD Awareness, and a huge thank you to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream for hosting the event and donating a portion of proceeds to Connecticut Children’s new heart program.
Adria & David Giordano