10-Minute Interview with The Mended Hearts and Mended Little Hearts Organizations

Tell us more about Mended Hearts. When was it formed? Mended Hearts, Inc. is a national nonprofit organization affiliated with the American Heart Association. It was founded in Boston by heart surgeon Dr. Dwight Harken. We have been offering hope and support to heart patients and their families for over 50 years. Who is involved with Mended Hearts? Approximately how many members are there currently? Mended Hearts brings together patients, spouses, family members, friends, medical professionals, and others impacted by heart disease. We currently have approximately 18,900 members in the U.S. and Canada. What are some of the services provided to members? Some of the services we provide include: Our In-Person Visiting Program, in which Mended Hearts trained volunteers provide in-person visits to heart patients, family members, and caregivers; Internet Visiting, in which trained Mended Hearts volunteers offer online support to patients; Toll-free Help Line (1-888-HEART99), where patients can call to have their questions answered by Mended Hearts operators; Local Chapter Meetings, where patients and their families can come to discuss topics such as diagnosis, recovery, and treatment, as well as discuss how to deal with lifestyle changes and depression. We have 274 chapters located in the United States and two chapters in Canada; Health Information Workshops, in which industry speakers and/or medical professionals provide Q & A sessions. Generational Outreach Programs such as Mended Little Hearts, which was created to help the parents of children born with congenital heart defects and heart disease. Tell us more about Mended Little Hearts. Approximately 36,000 babies are born with a congenital heart defect each year, making congenital cardiovascular disease the most common cause of infant death. After the initial diagnosis of a congenital heart defect, parents often feel very alone and are in need of hope for their child’s future. Therefore, Mended Little Hearts was created in 2004 with the goal of providing assistance to parents of children born with congenital heart defects and heart disease. We connect families with one of our parent volunteers, whose own family has also lived through the same medical situation. With the support and health resources of Mended Little Hearts, parents can learn to adapt and cope as they focus on their child’s situation. What conferences does Mended Hearts participate in or host each year? We host an annual national conference each year, with average attendance ranging from 300 to 400 people. The purpose of the conference is to train volunteers, provide up-to-date cardiovascular health information, and offer networking opportunities. Our 55th annual convention will be held August 25-29, 2007 in San Antonio, Texas. There are also various regional workshops and cluster meetings held at scheduled intervals to help train members and chapter officers, as well as keep members well-versed on the latest medical advances in heart disease. What are some of the ways in which Mended Hearts helps educate patients? Members receive a Patients and Their Hearts (PATH) educational packet, which provides information about support groups, lifestyle changes, how to keep healthy after a heart event, local Mended Hearts chapters, etc. Mended Hearts also publishes Heartbeat magazine, which is distributed on a quarterly basis. Heartbeat publishes articles on local chapters, current medical information, and inspirational patient stories. Members can also visit our website for more information on living with heart disease as well as educational resources for heart attack survivors and caregivers. How can a person become a member? To join Mended Hearts or Mended Little Hearts, please contact a chapter within your area to request an application form. Or you can also visit our website and fill out an online application. For more information, please visit: www.mendedhearts.org