Meet Hudson…
This mom shares the story of her son's tragic congenital heart defect.
Hudson was born on January 14th, 2013. Two days later, the hospital appointed paediatrician identified what he thought to be a heart murmur and immediately called the resident cardiologist to check it out. It turned out, Hudson had a congenital heart defect (CHD) called Truncus Arteriosus. He underwent surgery at six weeks of age and everything looked so positive that we’d all but stopped worrying about his heart; so it was completely unexpected when he passed away in the early hours of the morning of May 17th.

In a sad way, we were lucky. Hudson’s CHD was identified early on and we could do everything possible to try and save him. While we weren’t successful and are struggling through the grief of losing our child, we believe that Hudson’s story can help to make a difference in saving the lives of future CHD kids. So, I will be using this column to empower women, assisting them in taking control of their baby’s health instead of doing what I did, which was trust that everybody was doing everything they needed to in order to make sure my baby was okay.

There are approximately 35 known CHDs and one in 100 children born are affected. That’s one child born with a heart defect every 2.5 minutes globally. If you were to ask expectant mothers what a CHD is, not many would know the answer and this is because you only really become affected by these defects if you are lucky enough to have them identified early on.

CHDs are the number one birth defect and the top cause of birth defect related deaths worldwide. One in five infant deaths that are mistakenly identified as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) are actually CHD related, as are a further one in five “unknown” causes of death amongst infants.

The saddest part of all of this is that these deaths can be avoided through education and knowledge. If mothers are armed with the information they need to protect their babies from CHD related issues, these deaths could potentially be avoided. All they need to do is ask.

Ask your OB Gyn for information on CHD…

There aren’t many OB Gyns who perform the necessary scans for CHDs during pregnancy. In fact, I haven’t heard of one. Pretty much all of them scan for Down’s Syndrome and various other genetic disorders, but the dangers that face unborn children go further than just these. If heart related disorders are identified, expectant mothers can, for instance, opt for caesarean sections rather than natural birth, thereby relieving the stress on the infant’s heart and body.

Ask for a Pulse Oximetry (Pulse Ox) screen once your child is born…

Pulse Ox is a simple screening test that measures how much oxygen is in a baby's blood. When performed after the baby is 24 hours old (or before discharge), the test can help identify babies who may have serious heart problems before they go home.

Speak to other humans who know…

Join pages like The Hudson Initiative on Facebook, where we bring focus to CHDs, what’s being done about them in South Africa, what mothers can do to protect their kids going forward and raise funds to help raise awareness around CHDs. Talk to us, we can help you save a heart.

About the author:
Andrea Slater is mother to a CHD angel and all she wants is to help other tiny people get a fighting chance in this life. Readers are welcome to visit her blog for more on Hudson’s journey.

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