Saturday, February 02, 2008

What the heck is CHD?!

I had an email conversation with a member of the Mended Little Hearts group this past week, and mentioned that I did not even know what "CHD" or a "Congenital Heart Defect" was until several months after she had been home from the hospital and her heart had been repaired. The other member replied that she had never heard it called "CHD" either, until the last couple of years. Interestingly enough, she is an adult survivor of CHD.

So why is it that we don't know what it is our kids have? We are given a medical diagnosis for missing chambers to underdeveloped (or missing) valves; from narrowed blood vessels to unconnected arteries. We identify ourselves as "a parent of a TGA child" or "an adult with tetralogy of Fallot" - not as part of the larger Congenital Heart Defect Community. Perhaps that is why we are so disconcerted in our efforts to join forces and create an effective awareness campaign.

When I was in the hospital with Sadie, I was desperate for information on her condition. I spent hours surfing the Internet for stories of adult survivors, for parents who could relate to the horrors of open heart surgery with their infant, and for inspiration. Never once did I Google "CHD" or "congenital heart defect" (both of which bring up tons of links I could have used!). I looked up "TGA," "Transposition of the Greater Arteries," "open heart surgery" and "pediatric cardiology."

I suggest we start to educate the social workers (who often have extensive interaction with the parents and provide links to support groups) on the importance of being able to identify CHD as being the tie that binds the "broken heart" community together. What do you think? How can we create a better way for newly diagnosed CHD families to find other heart families, websites, resources and information? Send your thoughts to or feel free to post a comment.

No comments:

Post a Comment