IT is an illness that kills more children than all other juvenile illnesses combined.
The condition is the number one birth defect in Australia and one in 100 families will be affected.
It is congenital heart defects.
Three Hunter mums have found common ground in the gut-wrenching struggle of having a child with heart disease.
Rachael Coyte, Belinda Johnson and Erin Dobson have formed Zipper Tickers, a group trying to raise money for the Heart Centre for Children at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
The hospital is the only centre in NSW equipped to treat such conditions.
The mums have already raised more than $10,000 between them and aim to gather more while raising awareness at the same time.
Ms Dobson will today send her nine-month-old son Noah into surgery for the second time in his life to correct a series of organ defects including a heart with only three functioning chambers instead of four.
‘‘His heart is like a washing machine,’’ she said.
Ms Johnson’s son Oska, 5, has had a series of operations and will need more through his life to correct his defects.
‘‘You realise how much it affects everybody,’’ she said.
‘‘You just have to deal with it as best you can.’’
Ms Coyte counts herself among the lucky ones with son Ethan, also nine months, given the all clear after operations on his heart soon after birth.
‘‘I saw a lot of things on the ward that made me realise how lucky we were,’’ she said.
‘‘I always wanted to do something.’’
The Heart Centre needs to buy two cardiac ultrasound machines, which cost $400,000 each, and are the main diagnostic tool for children with congenital heart defects.
Zipper Tickers is hosting a black tie dinner with guest speaker former opposition leader and economist Dr John Hewson at Newcastle City Hall on July 27.
To buy tickets or donate an auction item phone 0403 337 235.