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Heart Kids Awareness Month delivers initiatives to save babies’ lives

27 July 2016

Heart Kids, the only charity supporting children suffering from congenital heart defects, is teaming up with dairy company Yashili to help the lives of many of the 12 babies born each week with a heart condition.

With Yashili’s support, the charity is raising awareness about babies with heart conditions during Heart Kids Awareness Month this August and with Yashili’s sponsorship, Heart Kids plans to help extend the charity’s family support programme to ensure national coverage, a service expansion chief executive Rob Lutter says will immeasurably improve families’ lives.

Heart Kids is also advocating for the introduction of a life-saving early-intervention diagnostic tool that will address the critical survival factor of early intervention.

image3“Early intervention is the key, yet 50% of babies suffering a serious heart condition go undetected at birth,” says Lutter. “The Pulse Oximetry test will quickly and painlessly establish whether new-borns have a life-threatening heart defect and we will save lives as a consequence.”
Sarah Macmillan, whose son Bowie had significant heart defects undetected at birth, says her family would have been saved heartache, stress and tears if the test was available at his birth last year.

“It was four weeks before doctors at Starship Hospital discovered Bowie was a Tet baby – Acyanotic Tetrology of Fallot – a heart condition made worse by a major 6mm hole, which required open-heart surgery,” Macmillan says. “Bowie is 15 months-old now and such a cool little dude, crawling everywhere and wanting to walk. You would look at him and not even know he is a heart baby.


“There are thousands of families out there with babies similar to Bowie and I just know this test, if introduced, will make a real life-saving difference.”

Lutter says the expansion of Heart Kids’ family support programme is also critical: “In New Zealand we pride ourselves on being an equitable society and this is about ensuring all Kiwi families have access to the same level of support. With Yashili’s support we will ultimately be able to deliver services all across the country, particularly areas like Northland, East Cape and Taranaki.

image16“We want to get Heart Kids people into every home where there is a child living with a heart defect,” he said.

Yashili NZ general manager William Zhao said the initiative – where the company donates $1 for every can of Yashili “Super α Golden Stage” formula sold in New Zealand supermarkets – will deliver real benefits to Kiwi children.

“Support for families with heart children is critical to their survival and good health and I’m so proud to be involved in this great initiative,” says Zhao. “We’re also doing our best to promote Heart Kids Awareness Month in August because raising public awareness is one of the key tools to ensuring kids with congenital heart defects receive full support.”

Zhao says the partnership is an important long-term investment in New Zealand children: “We want to do our best as a good corporate citizen and I can’t think of more important work than helping make a difference to the survival of children.”