Upstate American Heart Association sends red hats to hospitals t - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate American Heart Association sends red hats to hospitals to raise awareness about CHD

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Red hats at Greenville Memorial Hospital to raise awareness about Congenital Heart Disease (FOX Carolina: 2/2/18). Red hats at Greenville Memorial Hospital to raise awareness about Congenital Heart Disease (FOX Carolina: 2/2/18).
Chandler Smith wears the red hat given to her at Greenville Memorial Hospital (FOX Carolina: 2/2/18). Chandler Smith wears the red hat given to her at Greenville Memorial Hospital (FOX Carolina: 2/2/18).
Greenville Memorial Hospital giving out red hats for Heart Association Month (FOX Carolina: 2/2/18). Greenville Memorial Hospital giving out red hats for Heart Association Month (FOX Carolina: 2/2/18).

Stitched with love, every little red hat hand knit by a group of women at First Presbyterian Church in Greenville, is part of a big mission. 

"I just believe in helping out anyway we can, making a difference in someone's life," said Sandra Banks.

Sandra Banks is one of the 15 women who took on the task of making hundreds of hats for "Little Hats, Big Hearts", the American Heart Association's campaign to raise awareness about Congenital Heart Defects, the number one birth defect.

"It just makes you feel so warm, I'm glad to do it," said Banks.

From the knitters, the hats head to the packers. Emily Gladden, a volunteer with the Upstate AHA, knows just how big of a difference the little gift can make for families.

"Being a survivor of three Congenital Heart Defects myself, I feel like this is a way that I can give back since I've been given so much," said Gladden.

It's not just families affected by CHD who get the gift. During the month of February, the hats go out to babies born in Upstate hospitals and to some that are already there for extended stays.

Dr. Nicole Cothran, who works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Greenville Memorial Hospital, said the gesture means a lot, especially to families dealing with CHD.

"These families go through a whole lot with a baby that might not be perfectly healthy when they're first born so to be able to prepare for that, to get the education that they need and to know that people are out there supporting them, is just incredibly meaningful," said Dr. Cothran.

For Gladden, the hats are a tiny reminder of how big of a miracle her own little one is in her life.

"She had risk of having congenital heart defects but she doesn't have any which is another reason I'm so very thankful for having life and being able to have this little one right here," said Gladden. 

Dr. Cothran said a lot of cases of CHD can be detected in utero during the 20-week ultrasound, that's why she said it's so important to get good prenatal care. She said early detection can help parents prepare for what comes next if they have a child born with CHD.

Over 1,000 hats were knitted by various groups of people in the Upstate for this year's campaign. To learn more about CHD and the "Little Hats, Big Hearts" campaign, click here.

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