LWB Community Blog

Congenital Heart Defects: The World’s Most Common Birth Defect

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect seen worldwide and are a major cause of serious morbidity and mortality in infancy. In 2011, a study was done in China to observe the prevalence of heart defects among babies in Shanghai, which found a prevalence of 18.7 per 1,000 births. This is a significantly higher prevalence than found in North America in the same year, with 6.9 babies per 1,000 being born with heart defects (source: American College of Cardiology).

The cost for pediatric heart surgery in China continues to rise, often reaching $20,000 or more, which is well beyond the ability of impoverished rural families who give birth to a child with a heart defect. In desperation, many families then turn to abandonment, which is why almost every orphanage in China is now caring for children with heart issues. It remains the special need which the most number of orphanages contact us about.

Back in March of 2015, we introduced you to a baby boy from an orphanage in southern China who had been born with a heart condition known as Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF). Baby Colin had four defects within his heart, which made him quite blue, tired, and short of breath.

Normally TOF is repaired fairly early in infancy, but often babies in orphanages receive their surgeries much later if the local hospital isn’t equipped for the repair.

Thanks to wonderful supporters who donated to help him, Colin was moved to Shanghai for open heart surgery. Doctors were very happy that his vitals improved immediately after his surgery. His oxygen levels went to 99%, taking him from blue to a lovely pink. However, Colin struggled to come off the ventilator, so lots of extra prayers were lifted for his full recovery. You probably could have heard our cheers of joy when he was weaned from the ventilator and was able to move to our healing home to receive post-op care. Just look at sweet Colin a month after surgery, which never would have happened without you.

Today we wanted to share the wonderful news that we recently heard from Colin’s adoptive family in the Netherlands! Yes, following his surgery, this gorgeous little boy was submitted for adoption and chosen last year, which is what we wish for every child from orphanage care whom we help medically. Colin’s new parents told us that their son is a happy little guy who’s active and growing well.

Doctors even told them that he doesn’t need to come back for a check-up for the next six months!

We always love hearing from adoptive parents as it sure reminds us all that this work is essential.

Our deepest thanks go out to everyone who supports LWB as you make these stories of hope possible. Colin’s whole future is in front of him now, because you lived out the truth once again that Every Child Counts.

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