Children knit little red hats to donate to area hospitals

ALBANY — One in 100 children is born with a congenital heart defect, the most common birth defect. The American Heart Association and the Children’s Heart Foundation have joined forces to raise awareness about congenital heart defects in their Little Hats, Big Hearts program.

Connor Daddario, an 18-month-old born with a congenital heart defect, presented handmade little red hats to representatives from area hospitals Jan. 30 at Camp Amedore in the Bernard and Millie Duker Children’s Hospital.

Ryan Galvin, Heart Hero of the 2017 Capital Region Heart Walk and Run, helped Connor.

“You never expect to hear that the baby you are carrying has a 50/50 chance of survival,” said Courtney Daddario, mother of Connor Daddario in a news release. “Connor was born with an atrial ventricular septal defect and a cleft artery. We were able to put off his open-heart surgery till after he was 1 year old. Today, he is healthy and happy.”

More than 300 volunteers made nearly 3,000 little red hats just in the Capital Region. They will be given to newborns at hospital nurseries during February, American Heart Month.

Reid and Riley Bazukonis of Amsterdam, and Ryan Galvin. Riley, 10, made little red hats to donate to the program.

Representatives from area hospitals will accept hats from two children born with congenital heart defects.

“Albany Med is honored to accept these little red hats made by volunteers for the babies,” said Suzie Mookherjee, M.D., a cardiologist at Albany Med and member of the American Heart Association’s Founders Affiliate Board in the release. “Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week started on Feb. 7, and this great program raises awareness about this condition. This is also a great way to remind all families to focus on heart health.”

“At Albany Med, about 50 babies are born annually with a congenital heart defect. Fortunately, at the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital in northeastern New York with more than 140 physicians trained in pediatric subspecialties, these newborns have a highly trained medical team and support staff to help them fight the odds to go on to live long, healthy, promising lives,” said Javier Sanchez, M.D., director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the children’s hospital and associate professor of pediatrics at Albany Medical College in the release.

“As a physician-founded not-for-profit health plan, CDPHP is pleased to partner with the American Heart Association in support of the “Little Hats, Big Hearts” campaign and the important health message it conveys,” said Dr. Richard Dal Col, the senior vice president, medical affairs and chief medical officer at CDPHP. “Although tiny, the red hats presented today to area hospitals serve as powerful, visual reminders for all of us to adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle and to help our children and loved ones do the same.”

Hospitals distributing little hats during February include: Adirondack Health, Albany Medical Center, Burdett Birth Center, Columbia Memorial Hospital, Ellis Medicine, Glens Falls Hospital, St. Mary’s, Amsterdam, St. Peter’s Health Partners and Saratoga Hospital.