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After Daughters' Surgeries, NC Family Fights to Improve Heart Science

Charlotte Crotts with her daughters, two of whom were born with rare congenital heart defects. (American Heart Assn. Mid-Atlantic Affiliate)
Charlotte Crotts with her daughters, two of whom were born with rare congenital heart defects. (American Heart Assn. Mid-Atlantic Affiliate)
September 9, 2019

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — One North Carolina mother has spent more than a decade rallying for heart research, after her two daughters were each born with rare heart defects. And this year she’ll be at it again.

Fifteen years ago, when Charlotte Crotts’s daughter Caroline was born, doctors noticed a small hole in a heart valve. Caroline had open-heart surgery at seven months old. On September 29, Charlotte and her family will be participating in the American Heart Association's annual Heart Walk for the 15th consecutive year.

"The more research and technology that can be done, all those things that make heart surgery easier for anybody, would be wonderful,” Crotts said. “So, that's why we walk at this point."

This year's walk will be held at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, on the Wake Forest University campus. The day will include a heart disease and stroke survivors' ceremony, a Kid Zone and live music. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward life-saving heart research.

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Crott's second daughter, Elizabeth, had a different type of congenital heart defect that also required surgery.

"My second daughter, we did all the pre-screens, everything, because of the risk of the first daughter; they did scans when she was still in my belly,” Crotts said. “When she was two, the pediatrician heard a murmur, and I think she was a little scared to tell me that.”

Now in high school, both girls are healthy, but they will each need heart valve replacements later in life.

Crotts added that for her family, the Heart Walk has become an annual tradition.

"So, it's been 15 years of fundraising, 15 years of walking, 15 years of collecting red hats,” she said.

Congenital heart defects occur when when the heart, or nearby blood vessels, don't develop normally in the womb. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - NC