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Beirut, February 27, 2014 – 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, support services, research funding and enhance standards of care to Congenital Heart Disease patients. The awareness initiative consists of a media campaign with the support of the Ministry of Public Health and a line-up of activities across the year to help educate the public about congenital heart defects, the number-one birth defect that affects approximately one in every 100 babies born every year in Lebanon alone. Entitled ‘This is not a film.’, the bi-lingual multi-media campaign produced by award-winning agency Impact BBDO and featuring BHF goodwill ambassador Nadine Labaki, will include billboards, press advertisements, posters and TV spots during the month of March. Upcoming awareness and fundraising activities will include a yoga and fitness event, participation in the Beirut Marathon and the BHF’s annual gala dinner, to name a few. Attending the event were the Minister of Public Health, H.E. Wael Abou Faour; Ms. Nadine Labaki; BHF committee members; the team of the Children’s Heart Center at AUBMC and the AUB Office of Development; in addition to BHF partners, sponsors and friends. Reporting on the BHF’s achievements in 2013, Joumana Ghandour Atallah, BHF Co-Founder, said “2013 marked the BHF’s 10 year anniversary in which we celebrated more than 2100 saved lives thanks to the support of our community, donors and sponsors. We enjoyed partnerships with various entities including our Ambassador Sponsor BankMed; we developed a new corporate identity to bring our cause closer to people’s hearts and minds; and we created awareness for Congenital Heart Disease with several community events including a walkathon, a yoga event, our participation at the BDL Beirut Marathon 2013 and our annual gala dinner.” She added, “For parents and families of children with heart defects, our awareness campaign means hope and gratitude and we look forward to another successful year of saving lives.” Over the past 10 years BHF has raised donations and sponsorships to cover the medical and surgical expenses of over 2100 children suffering from congenital heart disease. 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). The CHC team introduced new modalities and techniques for treatment of heart disease, including procedures that were first of their kind in the world. In addition, the center’s team reported worldwide discoveries of novel genes responsible for CHD and earned a prestigious research grant from Harvard-Dubai Research Foundation. 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 10 years, we have seen the Children’s Heart Center grow with surgical outcomes comparable to the best international benchmarks, 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. With appropriate resources, the lives of at least 400 children can be saved each year in Lebanon alone. For more information, visit