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CHKD Blog

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CHD: Taking Awareness to Heart

Author: Adrianna and Ryan Walden
Published Date: Friday, February 14, 2020

The month of February is known for its celebration of love and all things hearts. It’s only fitting that we also recognize Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Awareness Week from February 7 to 14.

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects. Nearly 40,000 infants in the U.S. are born each year with CHDs.

Our daughter, Sophia, was born with CHDs. At birth, she was born with three congenital heart defects: atrial septal defect (ASD), ventricular septal defect (VSD), and patent ductus arteriosus (PDA). She was also born with a bicuspid valve instead of a tricuspid valve. Thankfully, Sophia's ASD closed on its own.

However, that wasn’t the end of our story. At the age of 3, one side of Sophia’s heart became enlarged due to airflow caused by the PDA. The opening, called the ductus arteriosus, is a normal part of a baby's circulatory system that usually closes shortly after birth. Sophia had a procedure that successfully closed off the hole by placing a coil in her heart.

Today, Sophia still has a VSD and bicuspid valve. She is followed annually by CHKD's amazing cardiology team. She's one of many other little heart warriors in our community.

CHD awareness is observed every February by the American Heart Association to educate the public and to celebrate the families who care for children and adult family members with CHD. CHD touches the lives of millions. 

As we wrap up CHD Awareness Week, be sure to share some love for CHD. When we raise awareness, it helps to advance research, improve care, and make new lifesaving treatments possible for our heart warrior kiddos. 



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About Adrianna and Ryan Walden

Ryan and Adrianna Walden have been married for 14 years. The two met when she was working for an arena football team in Norfolk where he was playing football. Ryan is a service coordinator with the Chesapeake Early Intervention Program and Adrianna is a Licensing Specialist for Children's Programs. Both have enjoyed teaching CHKD’s "Happiest Baby" class together for the past eight years. Together they have one daughter, who despite early health issues, is now a thriving and happy school-age child. The Walden's also lead a weekly community group through their church for married couples and their children.