Dubrovnik Le Petit Festival du Theatre 2012 Dubrovnik Croatia

'A Big Heart For Little Heart' campaign at Le Petit Festival 2013, Dubrovnik

A Big Heart For Little Heart is a non-profitable humanitarian association of doctors, medical staff and parents of children with congenital heart defects and other heart diseases. It was established in Zagreb in 1994 and is one of the oldest such associations in Croatia.

The main aims of the Association are to:

- Develop awareness for the need of early detection of heart defects;
- Support appropriate and timely treatment;
- Raise funds for essential equipment, apparatus and drugs;
- Educate citizens of The Republic of Croatia about being a child with a congenital heart defect or heart disease and being a parent or the doctor of such children;
- Offer psychological support to parents of children with heart defects and heart disease;
- Establish an accommodation for parents (house or apartment) near hospital in Zagreb during their child’s hospital stay.

Short history of the Association A Big Heart For Little Heart

The first significant role of the Association was the support given to the big American-Croatian project carried out from 1993 – 2000, which was solely humanitarian. In addition to numerous other activities, the Association Heart For Little Heart raised funds for two aspirators, two pulse oxymetres, a 24-hour ECG (in the meantime written-off), the first spirals for transcathetar closure of arterial ductus, a telemetric system (in the meantime written-off), a complete ultrasound machine for paediatric cardiology (Vivid 4) and an ECG computer system for data input.
The Association also offered support in furthering education of doctors, participating in their academic progress (MA's, Doctorates), paying for journal subscriptions and purchasing expensive books, etc.

In the current financial climate, the Association A Big Heart For Little Heart represents an excellent bridge to surpass the inevitable obstacles until better times. Even in more developed countries, similar humanitarian organizations work with institutions engaged in the care of children with serious heart conditions as treatment is very costly and long lasting, exceeding the financial capabilities of state funding, in spite of the undeniable knowledge and efficiency of doctors, nurses and other medical staff. In view of these difficulties, such associations are legitimate and essential.

What it means to be a child with a congenital heart defect?

When talking about children with congenital heart defects, it should be emphasized that the condition cannot be healed. Only with palliative treatment (surgery), drugs and constant follow-ups can their conditions be brought to a degree where they can live to a certain extent like healthy children. In our Association we regard children with cardiac problems as little warriors, involved in a big fight for survival. From birth (and even before), they are truly children with special needs.

From 1st October, 2002. until 1st October 2007. in Croatia, 205,917 children were born, of which 1480 (700 girls and 780 boys) with a congenital heart defect (7.2 per thousand). The most frequent diagnosis was VSD – Ventricular Septum Defect (34.6%). VSD is one of 13 most serious heart defects in children.
430 children were sent for cardiosurgical treatment. They underwent 556 operations, of which 202 in Croatia and the rest abroad. The mortality rate after cardiosurgical treatment was 5%. Of all heart defects, the most serious is Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a condition in which the child is born without the left ventricle. In simple terms, a child with HLHS has only half a heart. From the total number of children with congenital heart defects, 2.3% have HLHS, and as a rule it usually includes a number of other defects.
More than one million children in the world are born annually with a congenital heart defect. 100,000 of these children will not live to their first birthday, and 1000 will die before reaching adulthood.

In the Republic of Croatia there is a Reference Centre for Paediatric Cardiology at the Paediatric Clinic KBC Zagreb, led by Prof. Dr. Ivan Malčić who is also the head of the clinic and president of our Association A Big Heart For Little Heart. A team of paediatric cardiologists, as well as surgeons and doctors from the Intensive Unit work daily on the diagnosis and elimination of heart defects in children. However, regardless of excellent specialists, and without adequate tools and funds to carry out this work, the effects of all their efforts are decreased.

Campaign „A Big Heart For Little Heart“ – the aims and media action

In May 2011, the Association began a big national campaign „A Big Heart For Little Heart“, with two main aims:
The first aim is to arouse awareness in Croatia of the significance, delicacy and difficulties of paediatric cadiology and paediatric surgical cardiology.
The second aim is to raise funds to support development of paediatric cardiology, primarily to procure equipment for prenatal and postnatal cardiology.
The campaign's media action which started on 5th May 2011 includes:
- Advertisements on 100 jumbo boards in all the biggest Croatian cities
- Appearances of members of the Association on television and radio programmes
- Articles in the main Croatian daily newspapers and periodicals (media sponsors are 24 Sata and Večernji List)
- A television commercial to inform the public of the problems of children who are cardiac patients (the commercial is being shown on Croatian national television)
- A web site of the Association www.velikosrce-malomsrcu.hr
- A humanitarian phone number: 060/9095 for collection of funds for the campaign aims (for Croatia only)
- A humanitarian concert to be held at Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall on 25th October 2011. Jumbo posters advertising the concert will be put up on 100 places in all larger cities in Croatia.

The aims of the Association for procurement of medical appliances

In addition to raising public awareness of the problems of children suffering from heart disease, the purpose of this campaign is to raise funds for the medical equipment listed below. The equipment needed is very expensive: to give one example, the price of one ultrasound machine is approximately 1.000.000 kuna. The price of all the equipment listed would require approximately 3.5 million kuna (about 480.000 euro) to be raised. Paediatric cardiology is one of the most expensive medical fields, it accounts for the large sum required.

A lot of hard work awaits the Association but with the will and enthusiasm of its members: on the one hand the parents who have a difficult journey ahead to the health of their children, and on the other hand the doctors who are constantly working to ensure the best possible care for the children.

Medical appliances needed

1. An appropriate ultrasound machine for paediatric cardiology
2. An up-to-date telemetric system
3. laboratory for catheterizations and angiocardiography of children's hearts

Join in to help the campaign 'A Big Heart For Little Heart'!

Man's greatest wealth is good health. Our Association is involved with children whose health is seriously impaired due to heart problems. We, the parents who are members of this Association, cannot imagine life without our children, and have had to learn that is a life accompanied with illness. Our charity work is not only directed toward improving our children's health, but we also wish to help other children who have heart conditions. This includes children who are yet to be born as well as those already born with a heart condition. Hence, our campaign 'A Big Heart For Little Heart' hopes to raise funds to procure medical equipment that would greatly assist in diagnosing serious heart conditions in children before and after birth.

Our goal is to raise awareness in society of the problems children with heart disease encounter, the difficulties parents are faced with and of the efforts and expertise of doctors and medical staff in the fight for these little warriors.
Our campaign has the support of the Croatian Paediatric Society, The Croatian Society for Social and Preventive Paediatrics, The Croatian Association of Cardiac Nurses and The City of Zagreb.
Related Links:
Veliko srce Malom srcu