Andrew and RaeAnne Cook will attend the '3rd Annual Little Heart Hero Day' with their little heart hero, Parker, on Sunday in Saco. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Andrew and RaeAnne Cook will attend the ‘3rd Annual Little Heart Hero Day’ with their little heart hero, Parker, on Sunday in Saco. SUBMITTED PHOTO

SACO — Congenital heart defects are among the most common types of birth defects, but unlike in the past, babies born with these types of conditions are living longer and healthier lives.

Here in Maine, heart defects are the most prevalent form of birth defect in children and to offer support to parents, the American Heart Association will host the “3rd annual Little Heart Hero Day” locally on Sunday afternoon.

The event runs from 1 to 3 p.m. at the OA Centers for Orthopaedics, 15 Lund Road in Saco, and promises to be  an afternoon of fun and networking for children with congenital heart defects and their families.

According to Brenda Vitali, senior regional director for communications for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, the event is entirely free and will feature inspirational guest speakers, crafts, heart-healthy snacks, and great networking for parents.

“All Little Heart Heroes, CHD survivors, will receive personalized red capes,” Vitali said. “Family members can also enjoy many crafts such as ‘grateful rock’ painting, make-your-own healthy snack bags, face painting, and an appearance by a balloon artist.”

She said that participants can enjoy a fun workout with Performance Coach Harry Knox and take part in “Hands-Only” CPR demonstrations.

Viatali said that about 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart defects each year in the United States, which equals about one child every 15 minutes.

“About 25 percent of children born with a CHD will need heart surgery or other interventions to survive,” she said. “Today, because of advancements made through research, more infants born with congenital heart defects survive to adulthood.”

And, she said that despite the progress made in understanding and treating CHDs, more research and is needed to overcome this serious issue for good.

To make a reservation to attend the “3rd annual Little Heart Hero Day,” sponsored by Spectrum Healthcare Partners, contact Julie Westerhouse at [email protected] or by calling 289-2394.

— Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected].


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