Congenital Heart Defects (CHD) are present at birth and occur when a baby’s heart does not develop or work in the way it should. CHD is one of the most common types of birth defect, affecting up to 1 in every 111 babies born in the UK each year. The causes of most CHDs are unknown.
Fifty years ago almost all would have died as babies but advances in heart surgery, combined with patients own fighting spirit, have ensured that more congenital heart patients are surviving longer than ever before. There are currently approximately 250,000 adults and young people in the UK who were born with heart conditions. For the first time, the world has a community of grown-up congenital hearts but isn’t equipped to support them. The Somerville Foundation (originally the Grown-Up Congenital Heart Patient Association) was created in response to this.
Twenty-five years later we are proud to be the only charity in the UK that provides specialised life-changing support to young people and adult congenital heart patients. We run a free helpline for patients and their families advising on issues such as medical treatment, exercise, mental health, employment, education, disability, welfare rights and bereavement. We provide counselling and 1-2-1 support, co-ordinate peer networks and meet-ups to reduce isolation and encourage heart patients to help each other. We run mental health support projects, facilitate research and lobby for improvements to heart services in the UK. In 2016 we opened the UK’s first Congenital Heart Research Centre in partnership with the University of Suffolk.
We receive no government funding so rely on fundraising and donations to provide these vital services. Please visit www.thesf.org.uk to find out more about our work and how you can help. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.