Six-week-old Joshua Chalmers was born with a congenital heart defect. Picture Jay Town
Six-week-old Joshua Chalmers was born with a congenital heart defect. Picture Jay Town

Radical plan to combat childhood heart conditions

THE efforts of Australian researchers working on finding better treatments and preventions and cracking the genetic causes of childhood heart conditions, are to be boosted by a $20 million fighting fund.

In addition to this open funding round from the Medical Research Future Fund, federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt will also announce on Thursday $6 million for the first national action plan to improve the lives of children born with a heart defect.

The national congenital heart disease charity HeartKids has developed the plan to identify gaps in treatment and support for families, to better direct medical research and intervention for the approximate eight Australian babies born each day with a heart defect.

With survival rates improving, Mr Hunt said there were now more adults than children living with congenital heart disease, but they needed lifelong and highly specialised care.

Six-week-old Joshua Chalmers will be one of them.

 

Six-week-old Joshua Chalmers was born with a congenital heart defect. Picture Jay Town
Six-week-old Joshua Chalmers was born with a congenital heart defect. Picture Jay Town

 

He has already undergone three open-heart surgeries at the Royal Children's Hospital after he was born with "half a heart", and faces two more procedures before he starts school to remedy the hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

"You look back years ago when survival rates were much less, but it's so much higher now," said Joshua's mother, Sharon Chalmers.

"We wouldn't see that improvement without supporting further research.

"This is giving children a greater chance at life."



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