By Michelle Durham
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the first time in US history, there are more adults living with congenital heart defects than children. Advances in modern medicine have allowed children who in years past would have died to survive and thrive.READ MORE: Philadelphia Weather: Severe Storms Expected To Bring Damaging Winds, Flooding And Isolated Tornadoes
And because these folks need care that not all cardiologists are trained to provide, a unique collaboration is now underway between cardiologists at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
It’s called the Philadelphia Adult Congenital Heart Center. Medical director Dr. Yuli Kim (right) says, “There is a real vulnerable time period — adolescents are learning to gain independence and going off to college, and this is certainly a time period that we know in the research that patients with congenital heart disease get lost to care.”
Amy Verstappen, president of the Philadelphia-based Adult Congenital Heart Association, has a congenital heart defect herself.READ MORE: WATCH LIVE: Community Leaders Urge Philadelphians To Vote, Announce Activation Of Election Task Force
“I got pregnant in my mid 30s and I didn’t understand that I needed specialized care,” she recalls. “And unfortunately, neither did my medical team. I got very ill.”
Verstappen says typical adult cardiologists get six hours of training in congenital heart care, so there is a need for more doctors to specialize in this area.
Dr. Kim says the goal of the new collaboration is to make sure patients don’t fall through the cracks of care as they grow.
For more information, go to www.philachd.org.MORE NEWS: Here Is Where The Pennsylvania Primary Race For The Senate Seat Stands