2018 Capital Region Heart Hero
We're honored that Natashha Byron is the Heart Hero of the 2018 Capital Region Heart Walk and Run. Natashha is 14, and a freshman at Shenendehowa. Natashha loves the performing arts - most specifically acting, public speaking and advocating for human rights, all while putting a fresh spin on fashion of eras past. Natashha also participates in GLASS (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Spectrum) club.
Natashha survived three open-heart surgeries but still carries an emotional burden from these experiences. By agreeing to be this year's Heart Hero, Natashha will be able to share her story, continue healing and advocate for heart health on behalf of the American Heart Association. Natashha looks forward to using her experiences and her voice to help others.
Natashha was born with double outlet right ventricle (DORV) which is a rare congenital heart defect where the pulmonary artery and the aorta – the heart’s two major arteries – both connect to the right ventricle. DORV always is accompanied by ventricular septal defect (VSD). VSD is a hole in the tissue wall (septum) that normally separates the right and left ventricles.
Because the heart’s structure is compromised, the oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood mix and oxygen-poor blood gets sent to the rest of the body and the heart works extra hard to try to compensate.
Natashha had open heart surgery at 5 months old to correct these defects. As a result, she developed another complication called subaortic stenosis. Subaortic stenosis is an obstruction or narrowing at the outlet of the lower left chamber of the heart (the left ventricle), just below the aortic valve. Natashha had a subsequent open heart surgery at 17 months, but again developed subaoritc stenosis which required a third open heart surgery when she was 6.
Today, Natashha has no restrictions and doesn't take any medication. Her remaining heart condition is aortic insufficiency, also known as aortic valve regurgitation, which is when the aortic valve does not close tightly and allows some of the blood that was just pumped out… to leak back in. Natashha's cardiologists monitor this condition - along with a remaining murmur - annually.