Mental Health – Beyond Survival, The Struggle with Anxiety and Depression

PCHA continues its series on Mental Health with a piece by nurse and PCHA -VA Board Member, Sydney Taylor. Here, Sydney discusses contributing factors and prevalence of Anxiety and Depression in patients and parents affected by Congenital Heart Disease. 

 

 

 

For the first time ever, there are more adults living with a congenital heart defect than children. This is all thanks to improved medical technology, amazing advancements, and increased knowledge and awareness in treating CHD. While this is certainly incredible news, there are new – and unanticipated – aspects of treating survivors that we must now focus on.

When the field of pediatric cardiology was born, the main goal was to keep patients alive. The beginning

of this delicate science was unfortunately wrought with struggles in patient survival rates. However, as time went on and improvements and advancements in the field were made, patients started living to reach adulthood. But still, the main focus was to simply get these patients to see age 18. On the whole, aspects of everyday life patients may struggle with were – and sometimes continue to be – unaddressed by providers simply due to a lack of research and knowledge.

One of the biggest (and most prevalent) concerns facing CHD survivors is anxiety and/ or depression. Frequent and lengthy hospitalizations, painful procedures, and traumatic surgeries in childhood often lead to profound psychosocial impacts on patients. These impacts can range from minor to life-altering. For example, I can always feel myself becoming anxious when I smell rubbing alcohol or “hospital smell.” I remember this anxiety from childhood, but it had typically been isolated to healthcare-related environments. However, it made the beginning of nursing school and working in the clinical setting very difficult. Other patients may avoid seeking medical attention due to this anxiety, turn to substance abuse to cope with depression, or experience any number of ineffective coping strategies due to a lack of recognition of their unique needs in the medical community.

In a particular study done in adults with CHD, researchers selected patients who appeared to be “well-adjusted”; that is, did not outwardly exhibit signs and symptoms of depression or anxiety. Despite their appearances, 36.4% were found to have a “diagnosable psychiatric disorder, with anxiety or depressive symptoms being prominent [1].” Another study revealed that 18.3% of adolescents (age 12-18) with a heart defect suffer from depressive symptoms, compared with 3.3% of the healthy control group. Additionally, 30% of the adolescent CHD patients displayed anxiety, compared to 10% of the healthy control group [2].

Patients are not the only ones to suffer psychological distress related to their heart defect and treatment experience. Parents of CHD patients are also at risk, and possibly experience greater distress than their children. In a recent study done by the American Heart Association, an estimated 25%-50% of parents experience symptoms of depression and/ or anxiety, “and 30% to 80% reported experiencing severe psychological distress [3].”

There are more factors at play in the development of depression and/ or anxiety in the CHD population than you might think. Patients with more complex defects seem to be at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression, and interestingly, those who undergo more cardiac catheterizations than others [2]. It has also been theorized that separation from parents due to early life-saving interventions shortly after birth may contribute to psychosocial abnormalities. Other researchers have postulated that early exposure to traumatic events (such as open-heart surgery) contribute to the development of ineffective coping mechanisms later in life. Most intriguing is recent evidence suggesting higher rates of cerebral insult secondary to cardiac dysfunction in CHD patients: in one study, 24% of infants had abnormal brain scans prior to surgery, and a staggering 67% had abnormal brain scans after surgery [4]. Literature is even more scant regarding parental anxiety and depression, but older parents and unemployed parents seem to have a higher incidence of depression [4].

If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety or depression, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider. Now that heart patients are surviving, we need help in thriving. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you trust. You are not alone, and you matter.

 

For an additional guide on symptoms, tips, and when to seek help, please visit PCHA’s Educational Resource on Mental Health. Although this guide addresses parents in particular, the guidance it provides can be applied to patients experiencing difficulty with andxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress, as well. 

 

 

References:

1. Bromberg, J.I., Beasley, P.J., D’Angelo, E.J., Landzberg, M., DeMaso DR. (2003). Depression and anxiety in adults with congenital heart disease: a pilot study. Heart Lung, 32(105–110).

2. Awaad, M. & Darahim, K.(2015). Depression and anxiety in adolescents with congenital heart disease. European Psychiatry, 30(1), 28-31. doi 10.1016/S0924-9338(15)31916-7.

3. Woolf-King, S.E., Anger, A., Arnold, E.A., Weiss, S. J., Teitel, D. (2017). Mental health among parents of children with critical congenital heart defects: A systematic review. Journal of the American Heart Association, 6(2). doi 10.1161/JAHA.116.004862.

4. Pauliks, L. B. (2013). Depression in adults with congenital heart disease-public health challenge in a rapidly expanding new patient population. World Journal of Cardiology, 5(6), 186-195. doi 10.4330/wjc.v5.i6.186.

 

 

 

Sydney Taylor is a congenital complete heart block survivor, registered nurse, and is the Adult CHD Board Director for PCHA-Virginia. She has required pacemaker therapy since she was 15 hours old. She enjoys coffee and a good book, hiking and kayaking in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley area, visiting national parks, and making friends with any and all dogs.

 

American Stroke Awareness Month – Molly’s Story

 For the month of May, PCHA will be focusing on American Stroke Awareness Month. In the 3rd week of our series, Alison Ogden shares the story of her daughter Molly’s stroke at age sixteen.

 

Molly awoke for school on November 5, 2012 as if it were any other Monday in her Sophomore year of High School.  But life suddenly changed that morning, as her mother, Ailson, found her collapsed and unable to speak.  Even though Alison knew the signs of stroke, she didn’t recognize them in her physically fit, distance running 16 year old. Fortunately, the first responders did. The local hospital determined Molly had suffered a massive stroke following a dissection of her carotid artery.  After a scan was performed it was confirmed that Molly had a clot in the brain.  She was transported to a larger hospital where she would spend the next month and undergo a series of procedures designed to save her life. 

She was then transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital in a neighboring state where she would spend the next 2 1/2 months.  She returned home on February 12, confined to a wheelchair and still unable to say more than a few words.  She started out-patient therapy right away.  Her determination and drive, along with her positive attitude and faith, kept her focused on recovery.  She returned to school on a part-time basis in April while still spending many hours in therapy each week. 

By taking a full load of classes, working closely with the help of a para-educator and devoted school staff, she graduated with honors, on time, with her class in May of 2015!

Molly has attempted college classes, but, because of her aphasia, she found them to be extremely difficult.  She still struggles to regain communication, her right hand and foot don’t work the way she would like, but she is determined to continue therapy and still sees improvement.  Molly brings joy to every situation she is in, including the volunteer work that she loves.  She is open to talking about her situation and feels that spreading awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke is important. While caring for Molly, Alison has been inspired by her attitude. She has learned from her daughter to look for the best in all people and to live life to the fullest each and every day.

 

 

Alison grew up in Kansas City. She and her family, which includes her husband, Brad, daughter, Molly and son, Graham, has recently moved to central Oklahoma, where they live on a cattle ranch. Alison is a recruiter for Jos A Bank and feels lucky to work from home! Her husband owns a home restore/remodel business, with which Alison also assists.

American Stroke Awareness Month – The Asher James Foundation

For the month of May, PCHA will be focusing on American Stroke Awareness Month. In the 2nd post of our series, learn about the Asher James Foundation, founded by Jen DeBouver after the loss of her son Asher.

 

In October 2012 our whole World changed. The outcome of our son’s life was about to change. On October 5th our son Asher looked like a beautiful, somewhat healthy baby boy who was recovering from his heart surgery. He had been doing well when it came to his heart related procedures. He had gone through a fetal intervention, months before being born, a cath procedure at hours old, and then his heart surgery. He had a few minor hiccups along the way, but for the most part was doing well with recovery, so we thought.

On October 6th, Asher was red and puffy. My husband questioned the doctors as to why he was so red and puffy, but they didn’t really have an answer. It was the weekend, not much was really done to get one. By Monday, we really had no answers until finally they told us he had blood clots. The clots were in both jugular veins, and both arms.

It’s funny how dates stick with you. October 8, 2012. The day my son got his death sentence. When they told me he had blood clots, that is exactly what I thought because I didn’t really know much about them. What I thought I had heard was that they were deadly. And. They. Are.  I had no idea babies could get blood clots.

We met with the Hemotologist and she started him on different blood thinners, but she explained to us that there were no medications for children, especially infants when it came to blood clots. She reached out to colleagues across the country to find a treatment plan for Asher. Adult medications was the only option. We began treatment and it seemed to be working.

And then it wasn’t. The clots would redevelop.

Sadly, on October 23rd, Asher would lose his battle with these blood clots. Asher was a fighter and SO strong. He battled these clots for over 2 weeks. He inspired me with how much he fought, so before we even left the hospital, I had decided, in my shocked, grief filled state that I wanted to start a foundation in his memory. I wanted his fight against blood clots to continue.

So a few months later, Asher James Congenital Heart Disease & Thrombosis Foundation was created. I knew I didn’t want another parent to be shocked that their child could get blood clots. I wanted them to receive information while they were in the hospital of signs and symptoms of a blood clot. We started working with groups that deliver care bags to CHD patients and supplying them with our signs and symptoms cards.

Asher James Foundation has worked with Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital on spreading awareness in children’s blood clots by sponsoring Children’s Blood Clot Awareness Day. We have also been to Washington D.C. to advocate on children’s blood clots.

 

Each year for Asher’s birthday we hold a softball event where we play Chicago style softball against our local PCHA IL group. It’s a fun day remembering Asher, spreading awareness, and collecting things to donate to the CHD and blood clot patients in the hospital. We usually sell stuffed giraffes and donate one with each purchase. This year we are doing a book drive to collect giraffe themed books to donate to the patients. Asher would have been going to Kindergarten this year, and I’m sure he would have loved reading books.

 

A lot of research has been done in the past 5 years and treatment in children’s blood clots has come a long way. There are better treatments and survival ratings than when Asher was in the hospital. We had the privilege to meet with researchers at the University of Iowa to learn about some of the advancements.

If you provide care bags to hospitals where children could be at risks for blood clots and would like to add our signs and symptoms cards, please reach out to us and we would love to send you some. www.asherjamesfoundation.org.

 

 

Jen is a bereaved mom of 2, Olivia and Asher and a rainbow mom to Nina. Jen and her husband JD started Asher James Congenital Heart Disease & Thrombosis Foundation after losing Asher to provide support and awareness in children’s blood clots. In the past, Jen was the bereavement coordinator for Mended Little Hearts National and Mended Little Hearts of Chicago She decided to take a break to focus on her rainbow after all. She continues to do projects such as Grief: A Mother’s Project and currently the Rainbow of Hope Project. Each year she and her husband hold a softball event for Asher’s birthday, which includes collecting something (stuffed puppy or dog or books) to donate to CHD patients at Lurie Children’s Hospital. She also works with her sister-in-law to collect blankets for Olivia’s Blankets in memory of Olivia.

Jen is very open about her losses, and feels that by being open she can help others through speaking about their own loss or help others to learn how to be sensitive to those that have gone through a loss.

Donate Life Month – Choosing to give the Ultimate Gift

 

For the month of April, PCHA has been focusing on the theme of National Donate Life Month. In the fourth post of our series, Emily Inman shares the story of the day her family decided to give the gift of life, after her mother’s unexpected passing.

 

 

My mom had just gone back to work after taking off another long stint under the Family Medical Leave Act. She worked the 3pm – 11pm shift as a secretary at a trucking company. This meant I was back spending my evenings and parts of my nights at my grandparents. I didn’t mind. Grandma spoiled me. But I was used to having my mom around since she took off so much time under the FMLA. I was waiting for a bone marrow transplant. I didn’t have a match because I’m an only child, and, as luck would have it, no one in family was closer than a half match. I had just undergone several rounds of chemotherapy, steroid treatments, and an experimental stem cell transplant. I was still in reverse isolation and unable to attend school and activities.

I admit, it was a little scary not having her there even though I was at Grandma’s. She would call me during her lunch break to check on me and what not. On this particular day, the phone didn’t ring. Fifteen minutes into her lunch break it still didn’t ring. I knew something was wrong. I asked my Grandma if I could use the phone to call her. She said no. I defiantly used Grandma’s bedroom phone to call her office. One of the office ladies made up some story about how she couldn’t find her. Now I definitely knew something was wrong. About 5 minutes later the phone rang. Grandma picked it up. I deviously picked up the phone in Grandma’s bedroom to listen in on the conversation. I couldn’t believe my ears: “Mrs. Vasquez, we found Patty passed out at her desk. She was rushed to the hospital. You need to get there as soon as possible.”

The next couple hours were a complete blur. I don’t know if they were a blur from all the commotion, from my young brain trying to block it out, or from all the cancer drugs I was on. The next thing I remember is walking off of the elevator and down the hall to the ICU at the hospital. My dad, who was an over-the-road truck driver at that same company, was sitting there still wearing his Carhartt and covered in dirt and oil, with his hands over his face. I had never seen him cry before. And there he was. Beet red and crying like a baby. The nurse came in and explained to me that she had a brain aneurysm. She was basically brain-dead by the time she got to the hospital. We walked over to her room. I peered in the glass and she was laying there lifeless. Tubes, wires, and equipment were everywhere. If I close my eyes, I can still see her laying there with the breathing tube in her mouth. I said goodbye to her. And I thanked her for being the best mom I could ever ask for.

Grandma took me home, gave me all of those cancer drugs no child should ever have to take, and put me to bed. Behind the scenes, the pediatric cancer doctors we were working with at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee flew down by helicopter and harvested her stem cells in case I never found a bone marrow match or the experimental stem cell transplants didn’t work. The doctors then pulled the plug. Patricia A. Inman passed away March 1, 2001.

My mom helped to organize multiple blood and bone drives not only in hopes of finding a bone marrow match for me, but for finding matches for all others out their searching for their continued gift of life. We learned that what made it so hard to find me a bone marrow match was that I am of fifty percent Hispanic/Latino origin. My mom made it her mission to spread awareness about minority blood, bone marrow, and tissue donation, and to register as many people as she could to donate.

She then became an organ donor and her heart, both eyes, both kidneys, both lungs, liver, and pancreas were all donated. They went to recipients ranging in ages from 7 to 73. The mom of the 7-year-old boy who received one of her kidneys sent us an update on his condition right after his transplant. I was elated to read it. He was doing well and his prognosis looked positive. He liked to play baseball and couldn’t wait to be back out on the field. She asked if I would mind sharing something about my mom. The 73-year-old woman who received her heart also reached out and asked if I would mind sharing something about my mom. I shared that she is dancing in heaven knowing her organs went to so many people. She devoted her life to giving back, and now her afterlife is devoted to giving back as well.

 

 

 Emily Inman is originally from the Chicagoland area, and is an only child from a large Latino family. She was diagnosed with a very rare form of bone marrow cancer, called aplastic anemia, when she was 10-years-old. Emily needed a bone marrow transplant, but never found a match. She received several experimental stem cell transplants that ultimately saved her life. Emily’s mom, Patricia, passed away from a brain aneurysm while Emily was still undergoing treatment. She grew older, entered remission, and eventually went back to living a “normal life.” Emily received a B.A. in Journalism & Mass Communication and Global Health Studies from the University of Iowa. She stayed at U of IA and got her Masters of Public Health in Community & Behavioral Health, as well as Health Communication with a concentration in Cultural Compentency. Emily is now serving her second term with the Illinois Department of Public Health AmeriCorps. She serves as the food access for an organization that conducts homelessness prevention and intervention in the South Suburbs of Chicago.

National Donate Life Month – Becoming A Donor

For the month of April, PCHA will be focusing on the theme of National Donate Life Month. In the second post of our series, Jennifer Weiner, an adult CHD patient, shares why she feels passionately about organ donation and how to sign up as a donor.

 

A while back, I got a letter from Jesse White, Illinois’ Secretary of State. It’s not like we’re pen pals, but when I renewed my driver’s license the state sent a friendly thank-you for preserving my organ donor status. Back in 2006, I signed up on the First Person Consent Registry, and I love getting that letter every four years. I love showing it to my family, saying, “Go to this web site and sign up” (Go to this website and sign up http://www.lifegoeson.com/)!  I love the reminder that I made an active, conscious decision to help someone else.

To me, signing up on the registry, promising a part of ourselves to a stranger, is one of the most amazing yet simplest ways of tying us all together. This ad, which caught my attention back in 2007, has stuck with me 10 years later and demonstrates that idea perfectly.

 

I remember when I turned 16, the First Person Consent list didn’t exist. I, no doubt about it, signed the back of that very first driver’s license. Even then, organ donation was something I felt strongly about. I wanted to make sure everyone knew my wishes; I insisted my friends and family follow through with donation under any circumstances.

When the registry came out, I read all the details and signed online immediately. The website explains that your status on the list isn’t available until after you pass, you can change your mind, and it’s legally binding, so even if your family disagrees with your decision, your wishes will be honored.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering if Jesse White’s letter asks for marketing help, but I swear it didn’t.  By my best estimation, this all started with me in 8th grade. My sister and I were prayer partners with Paige´ Wilsek – we went to Catholic School. I will never forget it. She was in third grade and suffering from cancer, which started as Leukemia and spread to her bones. Our church held a donor search to find a bone marrow match for her. The chances of finding one were pretty slim, because of her rare blood type. They never found a match. Paige´ died before she finished 4th grade. I remember how hard it was to go to her wake and funeral. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the things she would never get to do, the life she should have had. Her mother wound up comforting me instead of the other way around.

Typically, you’d think of an organ donation as a whole heart or a kidney, but, in reality, even one vital healthy piece can save someone’s life, like the bone marrow Paige´ never got. It stuck with me then, and hit closer to home when I was 17 and received a donation of my own.

In 1999, I received a pulmonary valve and conduit homograft. At first, I thought of it as some disembodied pulmonary artery sitting in a freezer somewhere. It wasn’t until someone asked me whether or not I was going to send a thank you letter to the family that it hit me. I was alive and healthy thanks to someone else’s final gift. I never did send a thank you, and still feel a bit guilty about that.  Perhaps the best way to say thank you, though, is to pay it forward. I want to give whatever I can in the end, in hopes that it will give someone else a second chance.

So for all of you that haven’t signed the First Person Consent Registry to become an organ donor, go to http://www.lifegoeson.com/ and sign up.

 

*Please note each State has its own policy/procedure for organ donation registration. Learn more about organ donation and the policy in your State,  or to register and learn more about  various types of donation, please check out Donate Life.

 

 

Jennifer is a graduate of DePaul University, with a degree in Elementary Education and an MA in English and Creative Writing from SNHU. She is a 35 year old adult congenital heart patient, born with Truncus Arteriosus, has had two repair surgeries, and is an ICD recipient. Jennifer volunteers for the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association, both nationally and locally, managing the PCHA Blog and IL Chapter Communications. She also serves on the steering committee of Chicagoland Cardiac Connections, an organization that provides support and resources for patients with cardiac devices, based out of Lurie Children’s Chicago.

#CHDAware – CHD Awareness Week 2017

There are a few key ways to help us raise awareness:

Be a part of our Crowdfunding Campaign!

CHD Aware: Raising Awareness to support our Conquering CHD Kits!

It couldn’t be easier simply click here, or text CHDaware2017 to 71777 to donate or become a fundraiser yourself.

Help us reach our goal of $10,000 to get 400 of our Conquering CHD kits into the hands of those in need. These kits offer critical information and a personal connection for people with CHD of all ages and their families, through individualized care packages.

  • $10 puts our canvas bag into the hands of a parent who just learned of their child’s diagnosis
  • $25 allows us to provide a complete kit of educational materials and comfort items to a family whose child is in the hospital
  • $50 helps us educate 5 medical providers about the needs of patients with CHD and their families

Become a fundraiser yourself – post to FB, text your friends, send an email.  All the tools you need are right there on your phone! Any fundraiser who raises over $100 dollars will receive a free PCHA Conquering CHD t-shirt. That’s just 10 friends donating $10!!

You can even share this graphic to engage your friends and family:


Be a part of our Social Media Campaign!

#CHDaware: Raising awareness of CHD

February 7-14 is Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week. What are you going to do to spread the word about the most common birth defect?

Several of the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association programs help educate parents, physicians, and lawmakers in turn spreading awareness all year long.

However, during the week of February 7-14, the entire community comes together to help others understand how common birth defects are,  the need for research, and access to quality care.

We have created a series of social media graphics that you can use to help us reach those outside of our community. Share them, tweet them, pin them, make them your profile pic.

Make it personal – add details about your story, your experience.  Include a message about the importance of research funding or encourage others to advocate.

We can do the work for you – guide them to our media pages.  Ask them to like or follow us.  We’ll make sure they STAY engaged!  Click on an icon to find us:

Facebook twitter-button linkedin iglogocolor

Where are the graphics?

During CHD Awareness Week, we will post a new graphic each day for you to share, tweet, pin…

Here’s a page banner to get you started!

 


Join our Booster Campaign – Buy a t-shirt!

#CHDaware: Raise awareness buy wearing our Heart Infographic!
Check out our booster and get your shirt, today!  Shirts will be delivered 2-3 weeks AFTER CHD Awareness Week, so you can spread awareness all year long!!

Happy Birthday PCHA – #ConqueringCHD Week!

There are so many ways to help us recognize our 3rd Birthday!


1) Use your Social Media talents as we work to reach 250,000 people!

It’s your week to shine as a PCHA #ConqueringCHD social media ambassador!

In February, our education efforts had a total weekly reach of 210,000 people for our #CHDAware campaign.  Wow- that is a huge impact!  Let’s do it, again!!!

Join the Social Media Blitz 

During the week of August 21-27 help us cover social media with facts and faces. Like, share, comment and tag using the hashtag #ConqueringCHD.

In the know – Help others understand the impact of CHD and what the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association is doing about it by sharing our memes throughout the week.

Make it personal – Using the hashtag #ConqueringCHD, share stories and photos about those in your lives who are Conquering CHD. Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Whether it is conquering CHD at the doctors office, at school, on the playing field, welcoming a rainbow baby, helping others, advocating, or celebrating a birthday of your own, during #ConqueringCHD week, August 21-27, we want to celebrate with you!!

Invite others – we can do the work for you – simply guide them to our media pages.  Ask them to like or follow us.  We’ll make sure they STAY engaged!  Click on an icon to find us:

Facebook twitter-button linkedin iglogocolor

2) Help us raise $10,000

It couldn’t be easier –  simply click here or text CHD2016 to 71777 to donate or become a fundraiser yourself.

Give a gift that really makes a difference:

Help us reach our goal of $10,000 to support vital programs including helping patients talk to their doctors, making sure kids get great care their whole life, and fighting for more federal research funding.

  • $25 allows us to reach 1000 people through social media
  • $50 helps 10 newly diagnosed families through our Guided Questions program
  • $500 sponsors one key hospital site visit

Join in on the fun and earn great party favors:

Become a fundraiser yourself – simply ask 10 friends to give $10! All the tools you need are right there on your phone!  As a fundraiser, you will receive regular emails to provide inspiration and support in your efforts.  When you reach your goals, we will send you party favors:

  • Raise $100 and receive a free PCHA “Conquering CHD” t-shirt
  • Raise $500 and receive a t-shirt and PCHA Canvas tote bag
  • Raise $1000 and receive a t-shirt, tote bag, and exclusive PCHA baseball cap!

Need inspiration?  Check out these ideas:

  1. Simple Facebook Post: our experienced fundraisers said that with a simple post on Facebook and one email to their families and friends, it doesn’t take long to reach $100!
  2. Night Out for CHD: Mary Adair from San Antonio, Texas has arranged for several charitable nights out at local restaurants where proceeds earned during a specific time period benefit PCHA.
  3. Lemonade Stand: Nicholas Basken from Wisconsin is planning a lemonade stand on the corner, he will also invite friends and family to participate through the Virtual Party fundraising platform (above).
  4. Check out our Fundraising Toolkit for more fun and easy ideas!! Any funds raised off-line can be added to your online fundraising total.  Want to learn more, email advocacy@conqueringchd.org

3) Write your Members of Congress

AA - Futures ActTell them it is #ConqueringCHD Week.  Ask them to join you in #ConqueringCHD by becoming cosponsor of the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act (CHFRA).  Click here to learn more and see if your lawmaker has already signed-on.  If they have, be sure to thank them for #ConqueringCHD!!


4) Get the Swag:

Tori - Bat KidCheck out our online store for #ConqueringCHD apparel and buttons.  Don’t miss our great strawberry smelling pens, too!!


Click to sign-up and saveAnd don’t forget to Put Safety First and sign-up for the Rapid SOS.  You can learn more and sign-up, here.


Social Media Log 2016The party goes on after #ConqueringCHD Week.  Consider joining us for our Second Annual Congenital Heart Gala on September 24th, 2016 at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Wisconsin.


Finally, Celebrate all you are doing as, together, we are #ConqueringCHD!

Knoweldge. A Voice. Hope

#CHDAware – CHD Awareness Week 2016

There are a few key ways to help us raise awareness:

 

Be a part of our Crowdfunding Campaign!

CHD Aware: Raising awareness to empower patients and families with CHD.

It couldn’t be easier simply text CHDaware to 71777 to donate or become a fundraiser yourself.

Help us reach our goal of $10,000 to support our Patient Empowerment Program

  • $25 allows us to reach 1000 people through social media
  • $50 supports 10 newly diagnosed families through our guided questions program
  • $500 sponsors one hospital site visit

Become a fundraiser yourself – simply ask 10 friends to give $10! All the tools you need are right there on your phone! Any fundraiser who raises over $100 dollars will receive a free PCHA Conquering CHD t-shirt.

You can even share this graphic to engage your friends and family:

Text to donate

Be a part of our Social Media Campaign!

#CHDaware: Raising awareness of CHD

February 7-24 is Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week. What are you going to do to spread the word about the most common birth defect?

Several of the Pediatric Congenital Heart Association programs help educate parents, physicians, and lawmakers in turn spreading awareness all year long.

However, during the week of February 7-14, the entire community comes together to help others understand how common birth defects are,  the need for research, and access to quality care.

We have created a series of social media graphics that you can use to help us reach those outside of our community. Share them, tweet them, pin them, make them your profile pic.

Make it personal – add details about your story, your experience.  Include a message about the importance of research funding or encourage others to advocate.

We can do the work for you – guide them to our media pages.  Ask them to like or follow us.  We’ll make sure they STAY engaged!  Click on an icon to find us:

Facebook twitter-button linkedin iglogocolor

 

Where are the graphics?

During CHD Awareness Week, we will post a new graphic each day for you to share, tweet, pin…

But if you can’t wait that long, here they are:

Awareness Week 1in100Costly Most Common Birth Defect Stay in care Together, we will Conquer CHD Donate

 

Costly Need intervention

Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act (S.2248/H.R.3952)

2014-01-30 15.12.14Congenital Heart Disease Legislation

In November, 2015, the Congenital Heart Futures Act Reauthorization Bill was introduced in the Senate (S.2248) and House (H.R.3952) by legislative champions:

  • Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL)
  • Senator Bob Casey (D-PA)
  • Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL)
  • Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA)

 

 

Current Cosponsors (Updated 3/8/16)

Senate Cosponsors

Sessions, Jefferson “Jeff” [R-AL] – (joined Nov 16, 2015)
Bennet, Michael [D-CO] – (joined Nov 18, 2015)
Cochran, Thad [R-MS] – (joined Jan 19, 2016)
Donnelly, Joe [D-IN] – (joined Feb 8, 2016)
Kirk, Mark [R-IL] – (joined Feb 11, 2016)
Baldwin, Tammy [D-WI] – (joined Mar 7, 2016)

House Cosponsors

Norton, Eleanor [D-DC0] – (joined Nov 5, 2015)
McGovern, James “Jim” [D-MA2] – (joined Nov 18, 2015)
Swalwell, Eric [D-CA15] – (joined Dec 2, 2015)
Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN7] – (joined Dec 11, 2015)
Bucshon, Larry [R-IN8] – (joined Dec 11, 2015)
Griffith, Morgan [R-VA9] – (joined Dec 17, 2015)
Loebsack, David [D-IA2] – (joined Dec 18, 2015)
Nolan, Richard [D-MN8] – (joined Dec 18, 2015)
Lance, Leonard [R-NJ7] – (joined Jan 8, 2016)
Walberg, Tim [R-MI7] – (joined Jan 8, 2016)
Guthrie, Brett [R-KY2] – (joined Feb 1, 2016)
Collins, Chris [R-NY27] – (joined Feb 2, 2016)
McMorris Rodgers, Cathy [R-WA5] – (joined Feb 2, 2016)
Bost, Mike [R-IL12] – (joined Feb 3, 2016)
Lewis, John [D-GA5] – (joined Feb 3, 2016)
Webster, Daniel [R-FL10] – (joined Feb 4, 2016)
Abraham, Ralph [R-LA5] – (joined Feb 9, 2016)
Grothman, Glenn [R-WI6] – (joined Feb 10, 2016)
Pocan, Mark [D-WI2] – (joined Feb 10, 2016)
Ellmers, Renee [R-NC2] – (joined Feb 12, 2016)
Ellison, Keith [D-MN5] – (joined Feb 24, 2016)
Hahn, Janice [D-CA44] – (joined Feb 24, 2016)
Brooks, Susan [R-IN5] – (joined Mar 2, 2016)
Fitzpatrick, Michael [R-PA8] – (joined Mar 21, 2016)
Sessions, Pete [R-TX32] – (joined Apr 13, 2016)
Connolly, Gerald [D-VA11] – (joined Jul 5, 2016)

Are your legislators on the list?

If not email them, today!!!


 

Here’s more information about the CHFRA:

Original Congenital Heart Futures Act

First passed into law in 2010, the bipartisan Congenital Heart Futures Act was groundbreaking legislation authorizing research and data collection specific to Congenital Heart Disease.  This law called for expanded infrastructure to track the epidemiology of CHD at the CDC and increased lifelong CHD research at the NIH.

Since the enactment of the Congenital Heart Futures Act, Congress has appropriated $11 million to the CDC for these activities. The Congenital Heart Futures Act also urged the NHLBI to continue its use of its multi-centered congenital heart research network, the Pediatric Heart Network (PHN) that help guide the care of children and adults with CHD. Together, these efforts have improved our understanding of CHD across the lifespan, the age-specific prevalence, and factors associated with dropping out of appropriate specialty care.

We are excited that the reauthorization of this important law will allow the CDC and NIH to build upon existing programs and focus on successful activities addressing this public health need.

Key Aspect of the new Reauthorization Bill

The CHFRA continues these important activities and builds on them by:

  • Assessing the current research needs and projects related to CHD across the lifespan at the NIH.The bill directs the NIH to assess its current research into CHD so that we can have a better understanding of the state of biomedical research as it relates to CHD
  • Expanding research into CHD. The bill directs the CDC to plan, develop and implement a cohort study that would improve understanding of CHD across the lifespan. This will help us understand healthcare utilization, demographics, lead to evidence-based practices and guidelines for CHD.
  • Raising awareness of CHD through the lifespan. The bill allows for CDC to establish and implement awareness, outreach and education campaign directed at CHD across the lifespan. Those who have a CHD and their families need to understand their healthcare needs promote the need for pediatric, adolescent and adult individuals with CHD to seek and maintain lifelong, specialized care.

This comprehensive approach to CHD – the most prevalent birth defect – will address a necessary public health issue and lead to better quality of life and care for those with CHD.

Here is the complete text as introduced in the House on 11/5/15.

If you have any questions about this legislation, please contact our Director of Programs, Amy Basken, at abasken@conqueringchd.org.

If you are interested in becoming an advocate for this important issue, visit the advocacy section of our website which contains information about signing-up, as well as tools to help you be an amazing advocate.

Also, consider bringing your voice to Washington D.C. as we advocate for this legislation in February!

Together, we will CONQUER CHD!