There is a Mended Little Hearts group forming in Greater Portland. Mended Little Hearts is a nonprofit organization that provides hope, caring and support to families who have children with heart defects and heart disease. Families are often devastated when they learn their child has a heart defect, and Mended Little Hearts is there to let them know they are not alone.

Most people do not realize congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects in the United States, affecting approximately 1 in every 100 babies. Currently, there are up to 1.8 million people living with congenital heart defects.

Although cardiovascular disease is the No. 2 killer of children younger than 15 in the United States (according to the American Heart Association), treatment is improving for this chronic condition, which creates a lifelong need for help and support. Mended Little Hearts groups provide that support.

Mended Little Hearts is a program of Mended Hearts, which has been offering the gifts of hope and support to heart patients, their families and caregivers for almost 60 years. Mended Little Hearts groups meet together to share experiences and emotions so that they can work towards healing.

They also have educational speakers so that members can understand how to best care for their child and the best treatment options available for him or her.

At 1 p.m. Sunday, March 4, the Mended Little Hearts of Greater Portland will hold its charter organizational meeting.

This is a wonderful time to learn about the organization and what it will have to offer, the goals of the group, meet the leadership, learn about volunteer opportunities and become a member. It's free to be a member, and membership is not limited to just those affected by congenital heart defects.

The charter meeting will be held at the Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, 2801 N. Gantenbein, Portland, Room 1075.

Mended Little Hearts of Greater Portland may be reached locally by calling Pamela Camit at 503-860-8452 or Jim Ferretti at 503-807-4170. Mended Little Hearts may be reached nationally at 1-888-HEART99 (1-888-432-7899) or by visiting the website at .

Pamela Camit is a Troutdale resident who serves as the group coordinator for Mended Little Hearts of Greater Portland.

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