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12 February, 2021

Sweetheart Day

February 14 is more than just Valentine’s day for some parents, February 14 is also HeartKids Sweetheart Day.

By Phil Brandel

The Madrid family (L-R) Victor, Monica, Remi and Tylie with Happy and Healthy Heartkid Rafael centre.

February 14 is more than just Valentine’s day for some parents.  February 14 is also HeartKids Sweetheart Day, a national event held each year to raise awareness of congenital heart disease (CHD), which affects eight babies born in Australia every day. The complex condition with no known cure is one of the leading causes of infant death in Australia.

This HeartKids day, everyone is encouraged to purchase a $5 heart beads bracelet to help support families impacted by CHD. The bracelets symbolise the beads that many of the heart kids receive during their hospital stays.

Despite being a serious life-threatening condition, over 65,000 Australian babies, children and adults currently live with CHD, facing unique challenges for the rest of their lives, including repeated heart surgeries and ongoing medical treatment.

With a further 3,000 babies expected to be born with CHD in 2021, HeartKids is Australia’s only national charity dedicated to supporting those impacted those families impacted by CHD. 

In May 2020 Rafael Madrid was born in the Brisbane Hospital in the middle of the COVID lockdowns and Mareeba Mum Monica Madrid said Heartkids helped when her family could not be with her.

“When I had my 20-week scan, they detected a congenital heart defect called ‘Transposition of the Great Arteries’ (TGA),” she said.

“They told me I would need to relocate from Mareeba to Brisbane for the birth.

“He underwent a balloon septostomy intervention at birth and then an arterial switch operation when he was only eight days old.

“I got hold him for 10 seconds before they whisked him away.”

Monica said that when you have a Heartkid they earn what a called Heartbeads which is anytime a child has a procedure, operation, or a challenge that a child earns a bead.

“While in hospital Heartkids do a great job, they provide freezer meals, they fund and stock the parent's lounge,” she said.

They can also, come visit and offer assistance and once we got home Heartkids would ring regularly to see how everything was going and to see if there’s anything they could do to help.

Monica said Rafael is now doing well. “We do have to keep an eye on him, but he is growing in leaps and bounds and is on track with his developmental milestones.”

Newly appointed HeartKids CEO, Fiona Ellis, said HeartKids has been the voice of Australian children with heart disease and their families for almost 40 years.

“As demand for CHD support services grows, HeartKids is hoping to expand its services for families by continuing its 1800 Helpline, parent education programs, family financial assistance, and in-hospital support initiatives which includes its unique Heartbeads program,” she said.

“HeartKids’ goal in 2021 is to increase access to its support services and programs across Australia, with a particular focus for those living in isolated communities. “

To participate go to www.sweatheartday.org.au 

The Madrid family (L-R) Victor, Monica, Remi and Tylie with Happy and Healthy Heartkid Rafael centre. 


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