It’s a devastating reality but doctors say heart defects are the most common type of birth defect a child can be born with. Each year nearly 40,000 children are born with heart defects.
Katheryn Zagel, a physician assistant with Golisano Children’s Hospital, says families are often filled with questions after their child is diagnosed with a heart condition. “It’s scary. It’s a reality. It’s really disheartening when a family learns that their child has a heart defect. We want them to know at Golisano that they’re not alone, that we are here with them and that’s what American Heart Heroes can help them do.”
The American Heart Heroes program is part of the American Heart Association. The organization partners with Golisano Children’s Hospital to serve as a resource to patients and their families. “Every child that comes through the nursery is screened as a newborn to be able to figure out is there any type of congenital heart problem,” said Zagel.
While some children’s diagnosis can improve with age, others may need treatment their entire life, making the program an asset to families. “I truly believe it benefits the families,” said Zagel.
The program offers educational conferences, support groups, even fun events for the children. It also connects them to other families who are facing similar circumstances. But most importantly, it allows kids to be kids, which at times is the most important aim of all.
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