Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the world’s No. one congenital malformation, occurring in one of 100 newborns. Major CHD requires catheter interventional treatment or open heart surgery in early childhood. During 1960s to 1980s, there was no health insurance coverage in infants and children in Taiwan. The hospital cost for the open heart surgery was quite expensive. Many parents who could not able to raise such a money were obliged to let the child discharged and die at home.
A Call for Help to Save the Cardiac Children
Dr. Hung-Chi Lue, who was a pediatric cardiologist working in the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH), talked to a reporter, Mr. CK Chu, “I need the help to save the life of the cardiac kids. Next morning in the Taiwan Central Daily News (1970.09.20) appeared a news headline, “Dr. Hung-Chi Lue of the NTUH Calling for Your Help to Set Up a Cardiac Children's Foundation.” Two weeks later, a mother of Dr. Lue’s patient came in the NTU Clinic, and handed to Dr. Lue’s hand, the first donation, NT$10,000, saying “ This is the money, we saved on my husband’s birthday.”
A Campaign Committee Organized and Foundation Board of Directors Elected
Dr. H.Y. Wei, Dean of the NTU College of Medicine, Dr. S.R. Chhiu, Superintendent of the NTUH, Dr. C.L. Chen, Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics, and many others gathered and joined with Dr. Lue and organized a Campaign Committee. The Taiwan Cardiac Children’s Foundation (CCFT) was officially established in June 1971, and the Board of Directors were elected: President Huo-Yao Wei; Directors: Shi-Ron Chhiu, Chi-Ren Hung, Ren-Yang Hsue, Nong Tin, Wu-Ten Wu, Tin-Hsen Lin, Tsuo-En Yao, Chiun-Min Chen, Chha-Mou Chen, Chiung-Lin Chen, Kuan-Chhi Chen, Ron-Tan Huang, Huo-Chhen Yeh, Ta-Chhen Tung, Wang Hsiong, Sister Antonia Maria, Viola Ong and Shen-Lin Lai and Hung-Chi Lue; Auditors: Tsong-Yu Chang, Tian-You Lin, Shu-Nuan Yang-Cheng; Secretary-General: Hung-Chi Lue, Secretary: Hsin-Chi Ho, Lin-Ton Huang.
Warm Responses and Many Charity Events and Drives from the Public
Large and small amount of donations, in cash or remittance, from personal saving, or savings from gathering events like birthday party, engagement, college graduation and many others. Received also were from private companies and corporations, such as: the China Trust, International Community Radio Station Taipei, US Armed-Force Women’s Club, Rotarian’s Club and others. A biggest amount of donation was from the “Pak Fah Yeow Corporation.”
Charity concerts and exhibitions held for the cardiac children were: The Taipei Teachers Association, Tsai CS Piano and Viola, Taipei City Government, Yeh HC Oil Paintings, Chan MC Match-Box. Campaign Drives or events held were: NTU College of Medicine Students, North-West Air-ways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and some others.
Program Services for Cardiac Kids Carried Out in the Past 50 Years
The Taiwan Cardiac Children’s Foundation (CCFT) is the first charity foundation ever established in Taiwan, with a mission to save the lives of cardiac children, enhancement of the research in pediatric cardiology, and prevention of the occurrence of CHD. The program services have been carried out in the past 50 years from 1971 to 2020 are summarized as follows:
1. Save the Cardiac Kids in Need:
The number of cardiac children funded has increased from one month a child at start to one week a child, then one day a child in 1989, reaching to more than 900 kids in 1991. The number decreasd since the implementation of the national health insurance in 1995.
2. Working with the Cardiac Kids Parents:
We have helped establishing in 1988 the parents association of cardiac kids, called “the Care for Cardiac Children Association, and provided a secretariat office and granting of the annual budget, working together for the care of cardiac children.
3. Life Promotion Workers for the Cardiac Kids:
We started in 2001 to set up the “Life promotion workers,” serving for the cardiac kids, lending mostly oxygen tank for home use, and pulse oximeters, and in special cases, with “urgent relief funds” .
4. Scholarships for the Cardiac Kids:
For the enhancement of education in elementary, middle, high school, college and university, we started, in 2000, awarding scholarships to those kids, who had undergone catheter intervention or open heart surgery .
5. Holding of Cardiac Kids Sports Party:
Hoping the cardiac children may have the healthy lifestyle and learn the optimum physical exercises from early childhood, we started in 1985, holding the “Cardiac Kids Sports Party,” twice a year, under the auspices of the National Sport University .
6. Heart Disease Screening for Early Detection of Heart Disease:
We started since 1989, screening the school children for heart disease, in collaboration with the Taiwan Society of Pediatric Cardiology. Those children were screened with a special questionnaire and ECG-Phonocardiography, then physical examination by a physician. All of the cardiac suspects were transferred to a regional medical center for the final diagnosis made .
7. Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship and Research Grants:
The CCFT has provided the pediatric cardiology fellowship grants early since 1974 in NTUH, and has started granting the pediatric cardiology research projects since 1993 to now .
8. Corporation Society Responsibility for Promotion of Child Wellbeing:
Recognizing “Corporation Society Responsibility,” we actively joined in 2011, with the Child Health Alliance Taiwan (CHAT), advocating for the promotion of child wellbeing in Taiwan.
Currently, the children’s heart foundations working in the world are to our knowledge still limited, They are: The Taiwan Cardiac Children’s Foundation (CCFT) established since 1970; The Cardiac Children’ Foundation of Bangkok, Thailand since 1981; Adult Congenital Heart Association, Braintree, UK since 1988; Heart Children Ireland, Crumlin, Ireland since 1990; International Children's Heart Foundation, Cordova, TN USA since 1993; “Save A Child’s Heart,” Tel Aviv, Israel since 1995; The Children's Heart Foundation/American Heart Association Partnership, USA since 1996; The Children's Heart Foundation, in alliance with American Heart Association, Northbrook, IL USA 1996; Adult Congenital Heart Association, Media, PA USA 1998.
The growth of economy and medicine in Taiwan has been quite phenomenal, and the health outcomes of children and adolescents achieved have been also spectacular, especially after the implementation of the national health insurance since 1995. The total fertility rate has dropped in an alarming speed, reaching the unprecedented lowest level of 0.895 in 2010.
We are pleased that 80% to 90% of newborns with congenital heart disease now can survive to the adult age. Rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, which were prevalent during 1960s to 1980s, decreasing from 1990s to 2000, and are now almost eliminated. Kawasaki disease first appeared in 1967, increasing thereafter, steadily onward until today.