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Straight to the heart

Wednesday, 30th January, 2008

Throughout the month of February, the HeartKids charity will raise money for childhood heart disease with its annual Zippa Day Campaign.

The campaign runs for the whole month but particular focus is placed on Valentines Day (February 14) - designated as HeartKids Awareness Day.

The campaign's main aim is to promote awareness of childhood heart disease (CHD) - the greatest killer of children under the age of five in Australia.

CHD is responsible for 35 per cent of all childhood deaths in Australia and is the most common cause for admissions of children to hospital intensive units across the country.

One in every 100 children born in Australia has a heart condition. About 20 per cent of these are gene related but for the other 80 per cent the cause is unknown.

Local Kerri Simmons said she didn't realise how common the disease was until her daughter was diagnosed.

Holly Magookin was born with pulmonary atresia with collaterals and a ventricular septal defect.

She had two operations when she was nine months old, and another three before her third birthday. Two of these were on the same day.

On one occasion she stopped breathing in the night. Then tragically during the last operation - a full repair - Holly, still just a toddler, had a stroke.

Holly lost feeling in her left arm and needed extensive rehabilitation.

Since then the young battler has also had numerous cardiac cathertisations.

Now a bright and smiling 12-year-old, you'd never know by looking at her that Holly has gone through so much.

Unfortunately it is not the end of surgery for Holly. She will travel to Melbourne in March for another catheterisation due to calcification of the valve.

In a few years when she is older she will then undergo surgery to place an adult shunt and valve.

Money raised in the Zippa Day Campaign directly helps children like Holly and their families.

Ms Simmons said that HeartKids had given them both practical and emotional help throughout their experiences.

She now hopes to help them by raising money for HeartKids during the campaign.

A range of merchandise including stickers, pens and CDs will be for sale at Big W or can be purchased directly from Ms Simmons by phoning 0438 879 249.

Likewise, if any businesses would like to have a box of merchandise for their counter, they may contact Ms Simmons.

Heartkids is a nationally-run not for profit organisation that aims to reduce the incidence of heart disease, improve mortality rates for CHD and provide much needed support for HeartKids and their families.

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