December 29, 2017
by Andrea Olson

Did you know that Congenital Heart Disease is the most common birth defect worldwide? Approximately 10% of all children born have some type of congenital heart defect. Despite how common CHD is, most people know very little about CHD and how many children do not survive their childhoods because of it.

Today we launch our “ABCs and Faces of CHD” series. We hope you will find it informative and that you will be inspired to help us in our mission.


A normal heart has four chambers, with the upper two being the right and left atria. The muscular wall separating the two is the atrial septum.

An Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) is a common form of congenital heart disease consisting of a hole in the atrial septum.

ASDs vary in size, from very small ones that may self-heal as a baby grows, to moderate and large ones that can cause a variety of symptoms.

ASDs are twice as common in girls than in boys, and account for approximately 5-15% of all cases of CHD.

Symptoms and their severity depend on the size and location of the hole. In severe cases and in cases when the ASD is not repaired in a timely manner, right heart enlargement, pulmonary hypertension, arrhythmias, and heart failure can occur.

Treatment consists of suturing or patching the ASD closed via open heart surgery or, more recently, via cardiac catheterization.

The little boy pictured was adopted by LHM’s Executive Director. Born with a large ASD and large VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect), he was the recipient of ASD and VSD repairs while in China at the age of 10 months. However, he had developed significant pulmonary hypertension due to the size of his holes and later-than-ideal repairs. His pulmonary hypertension did not resolve after surgery, and he would ultimately have been terminally ill without access to the appropriate medical care provided to him after his adoption.



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