March for heart defect awareness

Young and old people marked Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week.

NPO Heart Kids South Africa held its annual march to raise awareness of congenital heart defects on Saturday February 8, from Green Point Lighthouse.

Hundreds of people including families, survivors of congenital heart defects, and supporters from all walks of life gathered for a quick briefing, followed by a fun warm-up session, before setting off down the promenade.

The march was held during International Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week, which takes place from February 7 to February 14.

The mission of Heart Kids SA is to help improve the education levels around congenital heart defects and support affected families through online community forums, ongoing visitation and counselling for the parents, even while patients are recovering in hospital, post surgery.

A congenital heart defect may be discovered before birth, shortly after birth, or years after birth. They can range from simple defects that present no symptoms, to complex conditions that are life-threatening.

In many cases, the cause is unknown.

All the participants were dressed in a combination of bright red and white T-shirts, caps, shorts and tutus, some holding personalised posters.

Spokesperson for Heart SA, Leizle Retief, said: “When you think of CHD, you often think of pain and suffering. But at this march, we want the community to be inspired and at the same time educated around the challenges of children affected by heart defects.

“CHD is the number one birth defect in the world and we want to share a message of hope and inspiration,” she said.

Ms Retief said there are many medically advanced interventions in today’s modern world for CHD children to become healthy and lead perfectly normal lives, depending on the severity of the defect.

“These children are true heroes as they have brought a community of people together through their courageous stories,” she said.