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American Heart Association and Florida Hospital stage “knit-in” to raise awareness for congenital heart defects, the country’s most common birth defect

Each year, 40,000 babies in the United States are born with a congenital heart defect (CHD). That’s over 100 per day and more than four per hour. To raise awareness for these little survivors, dozens of knitters and crocheters joined the American Heart Association and Florida Hospital today to stage a “knit-in.”

More than 400 red baby hats were donated to the “Little Hats, Big Hearts” program, which is the American Heart Association's campaign, in connection with the Children's Heart Foundation, to raise awareness for heart disease, the No. 1 killer of Americans, and congenital heart defects, the most common type of birth defect in the country.

“Anyone can have a child who is impacted with a heart condition. That’s why it is so important that we help raise awareness through programs such as Little Hats, Big Hearts,” said Dr. Matthew Zussman, a pediatric cardiologist with Florida Hospital for Children. “We want families to be aware that there is a broad spectrum of congenital heart defects, ranging from a severe condition detected at birth, to a mild condition that goes undetected until teenage years or even adulthood.”

Dedicated volunteers from across Central Florida joined other knitters and crocheters at Florida Hospital’s Creation Park Lawn to create as many red hats as possible for one hour. The event also featured live music, refreshments and remarks from leaders of both organizations.

“We are honored to partner with the American Heart Association not just today, but year-round, as we work together to improve the health of Central Florida,” said Yamile Luna, assistant vice president of Florida Hospital Community Impact and Volunteer Services. “When we come together with a shared mission, we can accomplish much. I’m grateful for our volunteers and community members who joined us today by donating their time and talents to kick off Little Hats, Big Hearts.”

The “Little Hats, Big Hearts” program will be collecting red baby caps through Jan. 17, and donations can be dropped off at the American Heart Association of Greater Orlando or at any Florida Hospital location in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. The hats will in turn be distributed to babies born in area hospitals throughout February, which is American Heart Month.