Beating Hearts Malta (BHM) is an independent non-profit foundation established primarily to support the needs of parents having children born with a Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) enabling them to share their experiences and to offer good practical advice. BHM is registered with the Commissioner of Voluntary Organisations in Malta – VO 883
How did it start?
Beating Hearts Malta (BHM) was founded in December 2011 with its main objective being to provide support and encouragement for all adults and children with CHD, their partners and families in Malta through sharing personal experience and knowledge as well as, to promote awareness and educate social care professionals, employers, insurers and the general public about the existence and the needs of people with CHD.
The idea to set up a support group was a concerted effort of Dr Edward Callus, Prof Victor Grech and Katrina Aquilina who following the birth of her son Timmy born with a uni-ventricular heart and diagnosed with a condition called Tricuspid Atresia (which is effectively a defective Tricuspid valve rendering the right ventricle unable to function) realised that Malta lacked a basic support group whereby, people faced with the consequences of knowing that their children will have to adapt to a life with a heart condition, can relate their experiences in support of each other. In addition the foundation seeks to provide valuable advice on how to deal with a heart condition given first hand by those who have experienced the situation already.
BHM acts as a reference point and all members are readily available to provide advice and assistance. The feedback of the Maltese patients and parents of children with CHD has been very positive and encouraging.
The Association also provides information and advice to improve the management of situations when a CHD patient has to travel overseas for surgery. In most cases Maltese patients born with a CHD require surgery to be carried out at hospitals in the UK. On the one hand, local hospital staff in Malta handles the logistics and the transition for the patient, while on the other, BHM would assist the relatives of the patient with information regarding accommodation and travel arrangements.
While the medical care made available for the patient is second to none, much has to be done on a human level in terms of psychological assistance to the parents. BHM aims to create greater awareness and to give parents the direction necessary to seek care and advice on a psychological level.
BHM is currently also liaising with insurance companies in Malta in order to obtain reasonable life and health insurance proposals for children and grown-ups with CHD.
We plan to organize fundraising activities whenever possible, to have funds available should they be needed for equipment or further research in the area of CHD. We also plan to fundraise in order to develop the Association further and to have it more widespread.