Posted on Apr 23, 2019
"Mom on a mission" raises awareness of pediatric CHD
The death of a child, especially an infant, is heartbreaking for any parent. Some parents are able to channel that grief into action, helping others in the process. Such was the case with Callie Schlicht.
Callie and husband Aaron Schlicht welcomed baby Theo into the world on Sept. 27, 2017. Born two months premature and with a heart defect, Theo underwent two open heart surgeries within the first two months. He passed away in March 2018, never having left the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
Schlicht, shown above with club president Art Angove, shared her moving story during our April 23 meeting.
Congenital heart defects are a leading cause of birth defect-associated infant illness and death. Schlicht, an assistant clinical professor in the college of nursing at Marquette University, says that these heart issues affect 1 in 100 births in the US -- approximately 40,000 babies -- each year.
About 25% of infants with congenital heart disease have a critical congenital heart defect, she explains. Those with critical heart defects generally need surgery or other procedures in their first year of life. Survival depends on how severe the defect is, when it is diagnosed, and how it is treated.
In Theo's case, an ultrasound prior to birth showed he would need open heart surgery. He underwent his first surgery the day he was born and another two months later. Sadly, Theo passed away at age 6 months. But the loss convinced Schlicht to "give back": She now speaks about infant congenital heart disease and advocates for more research.
To that end, Schlicht is spearheading the PCHA Heart and Sole Run/Walk June 22 at Miller Park. The event will raise funds for the Pediatric Congenital Heart Disease Association's efforts, which include research and education.
The run/walk will include a brief presentation about pediatric CHD and kids' programs. "It should be fun," Schlicht says.
As of April 23, 600 people had registered for the event. Her personal goal is 2,000 participants and $150,000 in donations. “I’m a mom on a mission," she declares. For more information and to register, go here.