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Little Hats, Big Hearts: Raising Awareness of Congenital Heart Defects

SCRANTON -- Congenital heart defects are common birth defects. It means that a baby's heart has a problem with its structure at birth.

They're only a few days old, but already these tiny babies, twin brother and sister Leo and Leah, own hats.

Mom and dad La Rhonda Boone and Michael Gamalia from Carbondale are seeing double. These little ones, who join a big brother and sister at home, were born February 10. They were surprised and thrilled that workers at Commonwealth Health's Moses Taylor Hospital handed them red hats.

The program is an American Heart Association initiative called "Little Hats, Big Hearts."

Andrea Kocher, nurse manager of mother/baby and pediatrics at Moses Taylor, explains that the hats come from community volunteers.

"Whoever knits the hats, they donate them to the drop box area, participants take them, clean them, package them and give them to us to hand out during the month of February.

They're meant to raise awareness of congenital heart defects, which Kocher calls a surprisingly common issue.

"Sometimes babies' hearts are small, sometimes they're too large, sometimes they have little holes in them."

In many cases, it's nothing to worry about, and the holes close on their own. But in some cases, surgery could be needed.

We visited Commonwealth Health's Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, but officials say the Little Hats, Big Hearts program can also be found at Commonwealth's General Hospital in Wilkes-Barre.