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These are just some of the breakthroughs you have made possible.

I sup­port research because, with­out it, I might not be here today.” – Natal­ie, who dis­cov­ered she had a hole in her heart at just 18

Ensuring the best care for babies born with congenital heart disease

Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common congenital disorder, affecting one in every 100 babies. Despite this, there is an overall lack of understanding of the consequences of CHD for babies as they grow up, and more than half of those living with CHD get lost in the system when their care is transferred from a children’s hospital to an adult one. The rate of serious complications is more than three times higher if people living with CHD do not receive ongoing, expert care.

Your kindness has helped launch the Congenital Heart Alliance of Australia and New Zealand (CHAANZ) CHD Registry, run in conjunction with Auckland City Hospital, Starship Children’s Hospital Auckland. This Registry will collect demographic and clinical data on CHD cases in children and adults from sites across New Zealand and Australia, helping to ask and answer questions about the impact of CHD and how to ensure the best possible medical care and social support is provided to people living with CHD.

All I could think about when I was in hos­pi­tal were the kids, and know­ing the seri­ous­ness of a stroke.” — Sarah, moth­er of 4, who suf­fered a stroke at 33

Developing a world-first treatment to protect people from stroke

Stroke affects an estimated 11,000 New Zealanders every year and is New Zealand’s second biggest killer. More than 30 per cent of surviving stroke patients suffer debilitating disabilities even after treatment and require long-term health care and support.

You became part of a world first in developing urgently needed treatments for stroke, when you supported a team of HRI and Victoria University of Wellington researchers in initiating investigations into light-sensitive drugs that can be activated for targeted therapy to treat stroke – something that has never been done before.

Through this cutting-edge field of photo-pharmacology, drugs can be “turned on” exactly where they are needed – such as at a blocked blood vessel in a person who has suffered a stroke to destroy dangerous blood clots – but “turned off” elsewhere in the body where the ability for blood to clot is still necessary.

I was just feel­ing lucky to be alive and get­ting back to feel­ing healthy, and well again.” – Brad, who had both legs ampu­tat­ed due to dia­betes complications

Preventing heart attack and stroke in people living with diabetes

Over a quarter of a million people in New Zealand have been diagnosed with diabetes, and this number is rising daily. Sadly, people living with diabetes have a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and complications, such as an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Platelets (blood cells that control bleeding) are critical in the development of cardiovascular complications, but there is no reliable way to measure their reactivity to identify patients who are most likely to suffer a devastating event like a heart attack and stroke.

Your loyal support has kicked off our deep dive research into platelets and how they act in people with diabetes. This brings us one step closer to developing a way to identify and monitor people who are at risk of cardiovascular complications, and potentially identify new treatment methods to protect them from heart attack, stroke and other life-altering cardiovascular events.

Thank you for changing lives.

You are helping people lead the lives they dream of.

Until she was 18, Natalie had no idea she had been born with a potentially lethal heart defect.

“I went to the doctor for something minor,” Natalie says. “They found a hole in my heart, and within weeks I was having open heart surgery.”

Over the next decade, Natal­ie continued to suffer breathlessness and health complications. But the hardest part was learning she might never be able to have a baby.

My doc­tor told me my body wouldn’t take it. That was real­ly tough.”

Thankfully, a treatment has been developed for Natalie’s deadly condition, and initiatives like the CHAANZ CHD Registry mean guidelines can soon be put in place to help improve medical care and support for people like Natalie.

Natalie was able to have a complex surgery that meant that for the first time in years, she could breathe again.

“It’s been life changing. I could get back to things I’d given up being able to do.”

Even more life changing for Natalie was being able to have a baby – making her dream of motherhood finally come true.

Read the stories of people that support like yours has helped

Thank you for supporting rising stars in research.

You are launching the next generation of Kiwi researchers into the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Cameron Trought, who hails from Tāmaki Makaurau, is one of eight talented researchers you supported. Overwhelmed by your kindness, he says, “I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to the donors who are making it possible for people like me to embark on a research career and make a difference to so many lives.”

You are critical to the fight against cardiovascular disease.

The generosity of people like you provides over 70 per cent of the funding for our life-saving work.

The only thing that gives people suffering from cardiovascular disease hope for a better future is medical research – and people like you.

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