Big heart to small heart is a non-profit, humanitarian association of doctors, health staff and parents of children who have congenital heart defects or other heart diseases. It was founded in 1994. in Zagreb at the initiative of the professor I. Malčić who was also longtime president of the assotiation. It is one of the oldest associations in Croatia.
Speaking of children who suffer from congenital heart defects, it is inevitable to emphasize that their condition is incurable, that only with palliative care (surgeries), medications and constant supervision, and that they can live like healthy children only to a certain extent. In our association, children with cardiovascular diseases are considered little warriors, who are involved in a a major fight for life and who are, from birth ( and before), children with special needs.
From October 1st 2002 to October 1st 2007, 205,917 children were born, 1480 of them (700 girls and 780 boys) with congenital defects ( a promil of 7.2 ). The most common diagnose is VSD – Ventricular septal defect (34,6 percent) and it is one of the 13 most difficult heart defects. 430 children have been sent to cardiovascular surgery. They have undergone 556 surgeries, 202 in Croatia and the rest abroad. The death rate after cardiovascular surgeries is 5 percent.
Above all other heart defects, the most dangerous one is Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), when a child doesn't have the left ventricle, or simply put, does not have half a heart. 2.3 percent of children with heart defects have Hypoplastic left heart syndrome and most commonly, they suffer from even more difficult diagnosis.
More than a million children per year are born with congenital heart defects, 100.000 of them will not survive long enough to experience their first birthday and a 1000 of them will die before adulthood. In Croatia we have the Reference Center for pediatric cardiology in Pediatric clinic KBC Zagreb.