Red hats for little heads

Chandler Downing was all smiles when her firstborn child received a hand-knitted red cap from IU Health West maternity nurse Montana Hix. Kaydence Todd was born at 5:23 p.m. Feb. 6 at IU Health West, weighing five pounds, 15 ounces.

Kaydence is one of more than 3,000 Indiana babies born in February who received red hats courtesy of the American Heart Association’s “Little Hats, Big Hearts” program. American Heart Association staff members delivered the tiny hats to more than 30 hospitals across the state.

February is American Heart Month, also a time to create awareness of Congenital Heart Defects. Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and in Indiana, and congenital heart defects (CHDs) are the leading birth defect in newborns. Approximately one of every 110 babies is born with a CHD, and 25 percent of those require invasive surgery within the first year.

The Little Hats, Big Hearts program raises awareness about CHDs while offering new parents information about living a heart-healthy life.   

“In 2018 we had two unexpected cases of infants with transposition of the great arteries.  These cases were caught by our amazing team of physicians and nurses, and the infants’ care was transferred downtown,” said Jennifer Sollman, a nurse and Clinical Manager of the Maternity and Special Care Nursery at IU Health West. “After those cases, and the incredible work that our team did, I felt that this program was a great way to bring more awareness to heart defects and how they can truly touch anyone regardless of their location. I think the hats are obviously adorable, the patients love them, and it opens up a conversation for awareness for the babies that have more struggles,” said Sollman.

The tiny hats were knitted with love by 200 volunteers – including 8-year-old June Leis, daughter of Dr. Anita Leis, who works with OB-GYN patients at IU Health West.

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email