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About Us

Heart Beats Children's Society of Calgary is a grass-roots registered charitable organization that has been helping families of children with congenitial heart disease (CHD) since 1987. 

Awareness

Congenital heart defects are conditions that are present at birth and affect the structure of the heart and how blood flows throughout the heart and the body. CHD's can vary from simple (such as a small hole between the heart chambers) to complex (such as missing or poorly developed portions of the heart) and can be prenatally discovered during a routine ultrasound or become evident after birth.  The cause of the disease is unknown.

CHD is the most common of all birth defects occurring in about 1 in 100 of all births.  It is also the leading cause of birth-defect related deaths worldwide.  Babies born with complex CHD require one or more surgical interventions before the age of 4.  This is a disease that often requires a lifetime of care including regular follow-up by a Cardiologist.  Medication, tests, repeat procedures and surgeries and in some cases, heart transplantation, are all part of life for those living with complex CHDs. 

Information

Our newsletter, Keeping the Beat, is published 3 times per year and is available by subscription, on our website, at the Cardiology Clinic (Alberta Children's Hospital) and at the Adult Congenital Heart Clinic (Peter Lougheed Hospital).  Articles include information about new research and discoveries, personal stories, upcoming events, interviews with cardiologists and cardiac surgeons and many other topics of relevance to our readers.

Heart Beats is also on Twitter and Facebook which helps to keep everyone in the community in the loop.

Resources

In addition to supplying equipment to the Cardiology Clinic, Heart Beats provides Heart & Soul: Your Guide to Living with Congenital Heart Disease to all new parents of children with CHD.  This valuable resources is available on DVD or in print form and is published by the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

Emotional Support

  • Heart to Heart - an opportunity for parents and expectant parents to come together in an informal setting to discuss the challenges of raising children with CHD.  Moms Coffee Hour and Just for Dads usually meet on alternate months from September to June.
  • Offbeats - a youth group that participates in fun, supervised activities throughout the school year. Outings include laser tag, pottery classes, bowling and a special wrap-up party.
  • Camps - a family camp-out at Camp Evergreen in September featuring lots of fun activities. As well, transportation to and from Camp del Corazon, a free camp especially for youth aged 7-17 with heart disease that located in California.  
  • Family Events - these include family picnics, Christmas parties and an Annual Event held during Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (February 7-14). 

Financial Assistance

It is estimated that every year between 120-140 babies and children in Southern Alberta must travel to the Stollery Hospital in Edmonton for their cardiac surgery.  The length of hospitalization can range between 24 hours for a heart catheterization to up to a year and beyond when waiting for a heart transplant.  According to the Cardiology Clinic (ACH), the average surgical stay in Edmonton is 10 days. The cost of accommodation, gas and food can add up very quickly and can have a major impact on families when funding is unavailable.  

Through our Helping Hands fund, Heart Beats reaches out to these families by providing them with gas and grocery cards to help offset their travel costs.  Heart Beats also offers discreet financial assistance to families who are having difficulty meeting the expenses related to their child's heart disease when other resources are unavailable.  

Partnership

Heart Beats is partnered with the Western Canadian Children's Heart Network (WCCHN), a network of pediatric cardiac care providers from the four western provinces - British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The Network's goals are to share clinical knowledge and expertise to improve care for children with heart disease, and to provide support for these children and their families. We also advocate for high quality pediatric cardiac care throughout the four western provinces.

The WCCHN links expertise between five pediatric cardiac care centres: BC Children's Hospital (Vancouver), Stollery Children's Hospital (Edmonton), Alberta Children's Hospital (Calgary), Royal University Hospital (Saskatoon), and Winnipeg Children's Hospital. Pediatric cardiac surgery is performed at two of our network's five centres - Stollery Children's Hospital in Edmonton and BC Children's Hospital in Vancouver. Concentrating surgical expertise enables us to achieve the best results for our patients.


News and Events

Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart is open to all parents of children born with congenital heart defects (CHD). more...

Offbeats
This fun, activity-based group provides an opportunity for youth aged 10-17 years to come together in an informal setting... more...

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Disclaimer: Any personal opinions/comments expressed in this website are not necessarily those of the Heart Beats board of directors. Submissions for the website and newsletter will be accepted, however we reserve the right to publish in whole, in part or not at all. Remember your best source of medical information is always your physician.