All Blacks legend Tana Umaga joins kids’ battle with congenital heart disease

In New Zealand, a fighter is born, on average, every 14 hours.  These are the 12 babies born with a heart defect every week, often receiving their first battle scar from open heart surgery in the first few days of their lives.
These kids show tremendous strength, fighting spirit and resilience, much like All Blacks legend Tana Umaga has shown throughout his rugby career.

Tana is one of the stars of the “Scars are for Fighters” awareness campaign for @Heart, the charity that provides support services for kids born with a congenital heart condition and their families.  Kicking off on the 5th for the duration of August, the @Heart campaign aims at raising awareness of the significant impact of childhood heart conditions on New Zealand families.

Helping young people is something close to Tana’s heart.  He has set up a foundation dedicated to helping underprivileged young Kiwis to achieve their potential.

Tana said, “I got involved with @Heart initially because it was for kids.  After meeting the kids and their families, it really hit home what a tough start to life these kids have had and how they have become real little battlers! It is very sobering to meet these fighters and hear their stories! I urge everyone to support these heart kids by making a donation to @Heart.”

Lorraine Warshaw, CEO @Heart said, “Congenital heart disease is often spoken of as a hidden disability.  It’s not until you see the long scar on the chest of the heart child that you know there is something wrong with his or her little heart.  In fact, their heart condition is not simply a health issue.  It affects all aspects of the lives of both the child and the family and they need our support to help them fight their battle with congenital heart disease.”

@Heart has been supporting heart kids and their families since 1984.  Our services are provided free-of-charge to them through our network of 18 affiliated branches across the country.  With appropriate and timely support, heart kids can successfully cope with the challenges of their heart condition and to lead a fulfilling life.

During Awareness Month, a series of activities will take place in different parts of the country including the Heart Stopper Challenge in Auckland’s Takapuna on Thursday 9th August, memorial services for our heart kids who have lost their battle, an online street appeal, and a national street appeal to be held on Friday 10th August.

You can help our Kiwi heart kids as they fight their battle by making a donation to @Heart.  Donations can be made at any branch of ASB Bank.  You can also donate online via @Heart’s donation website www.givingatheart.org.nz, or by texting HEART to 2427 for a $3 donation.   You can further help by popping a gold coin in @Heart’s donation buckets when volunteers collect on streets and in shopping malls around the country on Friday 10th August.