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Beirut, February 26, 2015 – The Brave Heart Fund (BHF) launched its annual Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Campaign during a press conference at the Phoenicia Hotel to bring more attention to the devastating impact of congenital heart defects on infants, children and their families and to raise awareness about the need for more education, community support and funding to sustain the mounting number of Congenital Heart Disease patients who are in need of financial aid.

Attending the event were Mr. Michel Kfoury, representing the Minister of Public Health, H.E. Wael Abou Faour; the medical team of the Children’s Heart Center at AUBMC and the AUB Office of Development; BHF committee members, in addition to BHF donors, partners, sponsors and friends. In the last 11 years to date, the BHF has raised funds through donations and sponsorships to cover the medical and surgical expenses of over 2,550 children suffering from CHD and looking ahead, the number of annual cases in need of support is on the rise.

Stressing on the need for increased and continued community support, Joumana Ghandour Atallah, BHF Co-Founder, explained, “Over the past 11 years, the Fund has grown from spending $60,000 per year to a staggering $1.3 million on average spent every year in the past four years which puts a heavy burden on the Fund as the yearly number of cases in need of funding are increasing drastically.” She added, “With this mounting pressure, the Fund can only sustain with the continued help and financial support of donors and institutions such as BankMed who has been an Ambassador Sponsor for the last two years.” Since its inception in 2003, the BHF has been supported by 3,058 local and international donors and sponsors, and made sure that 100% of all donations were used to cover the cost of surgeries and medical interventions.

In 2014, the BHF raised funds through its partnerships with local and international hospitality, cultural, sports and humanitarian initiatives including literary collaborations, a grant from the Fondation d’Entreprise CMA CGM, and presence in Jeddah’s annual Bisat El Reeh Ramadan charity festival, to name a few. Other fundraising activities were the BHF yoga event and participation in the 2014 Beirut Marathon with the biggest team of runners.

This year’s awareness drive, supported by the Ministry of Public Health, will consist of a re-run of the highly successful "This is not a film.‟ campaign produced by award-winning advertising agency Impact BBDO and featuring BHF goodwill ambassador Nadine Labaki. The bi-lingual multi-media campaign will include TV and radio spots, billboards, press and print advertisements during the month of March. Other awareness and fundraising activities projected for 2015 are the BHF's annual gala dinner and yoga event, a partnership with Malia Group for its Cosmaline product range also launching in March, retail and restaurateur collaborations and participation in the 2015 Beirut Marathon.

Dr. Fadi Bitar, BHF Co-Founder and Director of the Children’s Heart Center at AUBMC, heads a multidisciplinary team of leading pediatric cardiologists, pediatric surgeons, intensivists and anesthesiologists at the Children’s Heart Center (CHC). Bitar explained, “Few people realize that twice as many children die from congenital heart defects than from all forms of childhood cancers combined. In Lebanon alone, more than 700 babies are diagnosed with malformations to the heart every year. Over the last 11 years, we have seen the Children’s Heart Center grow with surgical outcomes comparable to the best international benchmarks and with a surgical success rate of about 97%, and today, thanks to the generosity of donors, sponsors and the community, we are performing an average of one surgery/intervention a day.”

About the Brave Heart Fund (BHF) The Brave Heart Fund (BHF) is a charitable fundraising initiative established by volunteers in November 2003 at the Children’s Heart Center American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), providing financial assistance to underprivileged children suffering from Congenital Heart Disease (CHD).

CHD is the abnormal development of the heart resulting in a defect with which the child is born; it is the most common birth defect and the leading cause of death in the first year of life. Every year, 1 in 100 babies is diagnosed with heart disease at birth taking the life of almost half a million children worldwide. For more information, visit