Published On: April 1, 2011

Curitiba’s Association for Children with Heart Disease

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“From now on, our work will be able to extend our reach and build our own headquarters, ready to accommodate distressed families who come to us, more fully than we have in the past.”  This is the view of Maureen Class, president of the Lionheart Children’s Association of Paraná (APCL), which was founded last week in a ceremony in Curitiba’s Municipal City Council.

APCL’s activities aim to provide support and guidance to families with children with congenital heart disease. The association was born of the unity of mothers of children with diseases of this kind.  The president of the City Council, João Claudio Derosso (PSDB), who supports the entity, chaired the session in the presence of other supporters, such as the cardiologist Fabio Sallum and Iraja de Brito Vaz, Special Secretary for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, who also represented Mayor Luciano Ducci.

Dr. Sallum said in his speech that the number of children born with congenital heart diseases in Brazil is close to 40,000 each year, and that in the Southern region only half those affected have access to specialised treatment, while only 5 percent are attended to in the north of the country.

“To be the parent of a cardiac patient is to trade your dreams for a lifetime of struggle, sacrifice and fear, and hope that your children do not suffer even more and may have a full life,” said Sheila Elizabeth Silveira, one of the “lioness mothers”, which is what the mothers who are members of the Association call themselves.

President Maureen Class further related facts of the APCL, such as the arrival of desperate mothers from various parts of the country seeking help, and campaigns for the donation of winter clothing. “We often take in people with little education and in financial difficulties, and we have struggled to educate society about the problem of congenital heart disease,” says Class, citing the bill establishing the Municipal Day of Congenital Heart Disease, authored by Councilman Luiz Felipe Braga Cortes (PSDB), which is currently under discussion in the City Council.

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