1 in 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect, the most common birth defect. If it weren’t for the scars on their chests, though, most people wouldn’t know there was anything different about them.
On Saturday, Feb. 8, the Capital Region Cardiac Kids chapter toured the Albany Airport and the Albany Airport Fire Department. The airport tour showed them all the different parts of the airport, with highlights being an announcement mentioning The Cardiac Kids, and a visit with therapy dogs Flo and Sugar. At the firehouse, the Cardiac Kids climbed into the giant fire vehicles, learned Hands-Only CPR, and put out a fire with a fire extinguisher.
“The Cardiac Kids are so much more than just the’ 1 in 100’ statistic,” said Jack Bevilacqua, paramedic with the Albany Airport Fire Department and member of the board of Directors of the American Heart Association in Albany. “They are fighters who have faced greater odds than many of us ever will. All of us at the Albany Airport Fire Department are happy to have this time to show them what we do. Maybe we have some future recruits right here.”
“When Aedan was born, we knew we had a long journey ahead of us,” said Jennifer Corcoran Conway, partner at Tully Rinckey, member of the board of Directors of the American Heart Association in the Capital Region and parent lead of the Cardiac Kids. Conway’s 8-year-old son was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. “There have been ups and downs, and being with other families who understand our lives is comforting and empowering. We are glad that the American Heart Association funds so much research about congenital heart defects, and we are glad it provides a way for families to gather regularly. We’re also very excited to be playing with fire and being in the fire trucks at the airport!”
Since 1979, there has been a 39% decline in the death rate for newborns with congenital heart defects. Up to 85% of newborns with a CHD now reach adulthood, which is up from 30% in 1970. The American Heart Association and the Children’s Heart Foundation have committed to funding $22.5 million in congenital heart defect research by the year 2021. Since 2009, the American Heart Association has funded $58.7 million in children’s heart disease research.