CHD Awareness Week: Little Hearts King and Queen


It’s Congenital Heart Defect, C-H-D Awareness Week. It’s the most common birth defect and occurs in one in 100 births.

The American Heart Association and the Medical University of South Carolina have worked for decades to bring these little hearts together to celebrate their strength and provide resources for families.

Four-year-olds Joey Williams and Hadley Nix both wear red superhero capes. They are both heart heroes. Joey and Hadley are the American Heart Association and MUSC’s Little Hearts King and Queen. Little Hearts are children heart survivors. Both were diagnosed in utero with congenital heart defects.

MUSC Children’s Hospital chief of pediatric cardiology Dr. Eric Graham says, “CHD is the most common birth defect in the United States and occurs in about one percent of all children. That means in South Carolina about 40 thousand children are born with congenital heart defects. For over twenty years MUSC has partnered with the American Heart Association to celebrate our Little Hearts, and we bring our children and our families together with physicians, nurses, and teams that took care of them for a wonderful reunion to celebrate their courage, strength, and resilience.

Despite health challenges, both Joey and Hadley are happy and active four-year-olds. Joey’s mother Lakesha Williams says she was five months pregnant when they found out about Joey’s heart condition.

She says, “At that time we learned that he had a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome which means he only has half of a heart. Joey to date has had seven heart procedures. He is doing great in spite of. Regardless of everything he’s been through, everything he has had to encounter on this journey. He is strong. Everything he’s accomplished and overcome. He has been on life support. He had his kidneys fail. His lungs collapsed. It was touch and go but he fought through.”

Hadley’s mother, Kelly Nix says she was diagnosed at her twenty-week ultrasound with a congenital heart defect. “When she was four days old she had a repair. Now, she’s a healthy happy four-year-old. She will always be watched and monitored. It’s something that will be a part of her life forever. Hope and pray she will continue to thrive and do well.”

Now both Little Heart Heroes are getting ready for the virtual Heart Walk. Their families are using their journey to help save lives.

Hadley’s mom Kelly Nix says she is thankful. She says they could have had a different outcome. She says, ‘We can’t thank them enough for the support they give, and for the funding and research. Even in Hadley’s condition that she has, five, ten, twenty-five years ago, she may not be here today, so we’re so thankful for the research, and advancements, and treatment that allows her to be here with two ventricles, and you’re with us today.”

The American Heart Association’s virtual Heart Walk will take place on February 27th. For more information go to

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