This month will see the country turning red, not for Valentine’s day, but in support of Congenital Heart Disease awareness. Established in the U.K. by the Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire based Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, the day helps to raise awareness and funding to help children and adults born with congenital heart disease – funding equipment and further research.
Congenital heart disease – also referred to as CHDs – are heart defects and problems present from birth. There are various varieties of the disease with some much more life-threatening and needing much more immediate surgery than others. Almost 8 in 1000 babies will be born with this heart disease, making it the most common defect at birth (source: NHS). Some symptoms of CHD include rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, and a blue tinge to the skin (cyanosis). In America, a child is born with CHD every 15 minutes.
While no definite cause can be cited as the reason for this heart disease, Down’s Syndrome and the mother smoking, drinking, or taking certain medication is known to increase the risk of a child being born with CHD. Due to the inevitable variation per case, treating it differs per person; treatment can even change throughout an individual’s lifetime, especially if further complexities develop. Those with the disease will often grow up being mindful of doing any physical exercise, thorough discussion between the doctor, the family, and the patient (when reaching the appropriate age to do so) are vital in making sure that the patient maintains a healthy life despite their CHD diagnosis.
However, it should be noted that this diagnosis, though it is important that the patient thoroughly maintains their treatments, should not hinder them from achieving their individual goals. Renowned singer Jessie J has frequently opened up about her battle with the diagnosis. At 10 years old, the pop star collapsed in a park and was taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital. More recently, she was reported to have needed to fly back from China to England after feeling unwell, all in the midst of taking part in the Chinese singing competition. Despite the obstacles, Jessie J won the competition (against other singers from around the world) with 48% of the vote (BBC news). In an interview with the Philippine Star, she expands on her experience:
“my health has been my biggest personal battle for me as long as I can remember. However hard I know it is to do my life with what I have and the sacrifices I make. I have never wanted to be defined by my health. Trust me I’m not sharing this story looking for sympathy. I’m sharing it because it’s my truth, and I hope it can Inspire someone else that can’t control when their body decides ‘No not today’.”
According to the Children’s Heart Foundation Fund, over 40% of patients who have an operation will need long-term care, thus supporting these families, researches, and carers are vital in supporting those with CHD. In order to help with this wonderful cause, quite simply, wear red! To further raise awareness, why not use the hashtag #WearRed on February 1st? Or, better yet, organise your group of friends or class to do the same! To see further details on the Children’s Heart Surgery, other ways to help research and equipment funding, or even the disease itself, please see the links we have included below.
Jessie J articles: