More Mississippians Surviving Congenital Heart Disease

More Mississippians Surviving Congenital Heart Disease
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Dr. Mike McMullan and Jared Gould at UMMC

More Mississippians are surviving congenital heart disease thanks to the advancement of medicine over the last two decades. MPB's Jasmine Ellis has more.

In the U.S., one out of every 100 babies is born with congenital heart disease says Camille Richards. She is a nurse practitioner with the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She says it's estimated that 20,000 Mississippians are currently living with the disease. Richards says it's critical that people living with the illness receive care throughout their lives.

"Twenty years ago a baby that was born with a heart defect probably only had a 50 percent chance of living to the time of 13 much less 18," said Richards. "With advances in health care over the last 10 years, we have now realized a 90 to 95 percent survival rate of these babies with heart defects that live to adulthood."

Twenty-two year old Jared Gould of Petal has lived with congenital heart disease his whole life. He graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi this month. Gould says he considers himself to be one of the lucky ones living with his condition.

"I think what it gives me to focus on more is how I am able to help in that arena," said Gould. "Because people don't necessarily have the kind of privilege that I've been given. There's almost a responsibility that lies in my hands to speak for those who don't have this kind of privilege."

The Medical Center is hosting a free conference for patients and their families on growing up with congenital heart disease on June 8. More information is available from UMMC.