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Dallas Parents Raising Awareness Congentital Heart Defects In Children

For Immediate ReleaseCC Red Circl
Contact: Donald J. Claxton
Feb. 4, 2013


Interview Local Parents, Children Featuring Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week Feb. 7-14 During Mended Little Hearts of Dallas Support Group Event

DALLAS—It’s almost Valentine’s Day, the time for Cupid, colored candy hearts, cards and this year, Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, a time when parents of “broken-hearted” children are seeking to raise awareness for the importance of prenatal screening, post-birth pulse and oxygen testing, and supporting children who live with “broken hearts” year round.

Two Dallas-area moms with children who have a CHD are available for interviews, along with Emma, 2, and Pablo, 15, and others in the area who have been affected by CHD and who are trying to educate the public about the importance of recognizing the signs and symptoms of this disease. Emma, 2,

A monthly support meeting also is slated for Feb. 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas provided flu conditions do not re-escalate and the hospital prohibits such on-site activities out of concern for the families involved.


  • Pre-event interviews with Sarah Stewart and her daughter, Emma, who has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Pre-event interviews with Alejandra Romo and son, Pablo, who had Transposition of Great Arteries when he was 10 days old
  • Feb. 11, 2013: Mended Little Hearts of Dallas support group meeting at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, with family members of children in the hospital’s Heart Intensive Care Unit at 6:30 p.m. in the DL Café Seating area.

*Editor’s Note: Because it is flu and RSV season, children like Emma are not permitted to go to the hospital unless they are sick, and children in the hospital are not permitted to leave the ICU because they are sick, so to get video of an affected child, it is necessary to do an off-site, in-home interview. (Reporters and photographers also must not be experiencing flu, RSV or cold-like symptoms in order to be around the CHD children and parents.)

During the Feb. 11, 6:30 p.m. MLH support meeting at Children’s Medical Center, family members of those suffering from this disease will be treated to a meal outside the ICU in an effort to take their minds off of the condition of their child, to offer encouragement from moms and dads whose children also have the disease but are not currently in the hospital, and to recognize the national awareness campaign.

According to the National Institute of Health, CHDs are the most common type of birth defect, affecting eight out of every 1,000 newborns. Each year, more than 35,000 babies in the United States are born with a CHD. But according to Stewart, the signs are not always obvious.

“I like to think of CHDs as a silent fight most of the time. My Emma wears visible signs of her fight: oxygen tubing, feeding tube, etc.; however, there are many children living among us that look ‘normal’ on the outside. Unless you see their ‘zipper,’ or scar tissue from surgery, you likely would not know of their daily battle of living with a ‘broken heart,’” Stewart said.

“Through Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week in Dallas, we are seeking to raise awareness about heart defects that Cupid’s arrow can’t cure.”

Background on Emma: Emma has had three major open-heart surgeries, was intubated for more than six months, endured an inpatient hospital stay for 12 of the first 15 months of her life, and continues to require significant medical care. Emma’s specific case is rare. Her parents learned of her specific heart conditions before she was born and sought out the best medical care for her in the special heart patient intensive care unit at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.

Background on CHDs: A CHD is a problem with the heart’s structure that are present at birth. Common examples include holes in the inside walls of the heart and narrowed or leaky valves. In more severe forms, blood vessels or heart chambers may be missing, poorly formed and/or in the wrong place.

CHDs are the most common birth defects. CHDs occur in almost 1 percent of births. Nationally each year, between 100-200 deaths are due to unrecognized heart disease in newborns. These numbers exclude those dying before diagnosis. About 40,000 children in the US are born each year with a CHD.

Figures show that nearly 25 percent of children born with a CHD will require heart surgery or other interventions in order to survive. Today, more than 85 percent of babies born with a CHD will survive to age 18, but children with more severe cases are less likely to reach adulthood.

Mrs. Stewart often points out that nearly twice as many children die from CHDs in the US each year as from all forms of childhood cancer, yet funding for pediatric cancer research is five times higher than funding for CHDs.

Claxton Creative, LLC

Claxton Creative is a Dallas-based full-service public relations firm focused on the development of interactive, multi-touch publications for mobile devices worldwide. The company was founded by former Dallas ISD communications director, Donald J. Claxton.


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  1. Jana Stewart

    Emma is my only grandchild. What a blessing she has been to SO MANY people!

  2. Gerald Donaldson

    Emma’s parents,Scott & Sarah, are the ” best of the best”. Gerald Donaldson (a cousin).


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