Brave Heart Fund Launches Awareness Campaign
|(Left to right): Atallah, Khalifeh, and Bitar raise awareness about congenital heart disease
With the slogan “Babies need open-heart surgery too,” the Brave Heart Fund at the Children’s Heart Center in the American University of Beirut Medical Center launched its awareness campaign through a well-attended press conference held at the Phoenicia InterContinental Hotel on March 3.
Founding member Joumana Ghandour Atallah introduced the fund as a charitable organization established five years ago by members personally touched by the heartache associated with congenital heart disease in children. Since its inception, the fund has treated about 530 babies with the defect, in compliance with its mission statement: “No child should die from heart disease because of lack of funds.” “In other words,” said Atallah, “the Fund has been treating a child every three or four days.” She added, “We created the fund so that every parent could be spared the torment of facing the possibility of losing their child.”
Every year, about 600 children in Lebanon are diagnosed with congenital heart disease. About 400 of these will need some form of treatment. Left untreated, 70 percent of babies will not live to see their first birthday, noted Atallah.
Dr. Fadi Bitar, the director of the Children’s Heart Center at AUB and Brave Heart Fund founding member, said that CHD is the most common birth defect and the leading cause of death in the first year of life. Bitar also noted that AUB is dedicating itself to research on heart disease and now possesses an impressive team that can offer the best services. He also commended the support and collaboration of the Ministry of Health, currently led by Minister Mohammed Jawad Khalifeh.
In turn, Khalifeh praised the charitable organization’s efforts, saying, “This shows that when civil society sets its mind on something and goes about it in the right way, it can achieve formidable results.” Khalifeh also encouraged NGOs in Lebanon to focus their efforts, noting that many organizations are not spending tax-payer money wisely.
As part of the news conference, the Brave Heart Fund showed a 29-second TV spot created by IMPACT BBDO encouraging parents to screen their kids for congenital heart disease and thus help save their lives. The spot will air on all national TV stations throughout March, which will also witness a Brave Heart fundraising gala dinner on March 13.
In May, the fund will air an awareness message during the 62nd Cannes Film Festival and will hold a fundraising fashion show in collaboration with Lola et Moi, a Lebanese children’s designer label. The fund will also participate in the 6th Beirut International Marathon in November.