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February 13, 2007 > Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Day

Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Day

By Pushpa Warrier

February 14 is observed as Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Day. CHD is a growing problem that is often neglected, costly, long term and silent. More research into this child killer is desperately needed. The causes are many and varied, from having a rubella infection (German measles) during the pregnancy to fetal alcohol syndrome to the use of prescription drugs including thalidomide and lithium. Drug abuse of any kind can also lead to this problem. February 7-14, 2007 is also celebrated as Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week during which an international coalition of families, individuals, non-profit organizations, support groups, and health professionals participate in a campaign to increase public awareness of Congenital Heart Defects and Childhood Onset Heart Disease.
Jeremy Martin was born with congenital heart disease. He has survived four open heart surgeries and is now 9 years old. This last summer he had a chance to attend heart camp for the first time. "It was so much fun. I met kids that were just like me. We had the same scars. We all got tired easily, but tried to keep going. We also experienced new things together," Jeremy said. "This was the best experience for me and I want to go every year."
The camp he is referring to is a free summer camp called Camp Taylor, run by doctors, nurses and parent volunteers and entirely funded by donations. Jeremy is now trying to raise money to help support this camp by starting his own web page at www.firstgiving.com/jeremymartin.
Jeremy is looking for a company or organization to match his intended goal of $5000 by February 14, which coincides with Valentine's Day and Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Day. He is doing this so "new friends and I can continue to have this time together."
Kids like Jeremy have benefited from the program in many ways. "I felt normal for once and I would like to go back every year if I can. At school, the kids don't understand but at Camp Taylor we all have a lot in common."
For more information on how to become involved, contact Kimberlie Gamino at (209) 545-4715 or Christie Martin at (510) 673-3389. Information on how to register a child can be obtained at www.kidsheartcamp.org.

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