I was born on December 9, 1988. My parents took me home from the hospital thinking I was a perfectly "normal" healthy baby. They did not know anything was wrong until about 2 days later after I was already home. I was making grunting noises in attempt to breathe, was a little gray in color, and my lips were turning blue. This is when my parents and grandma knew something was not right. It turns out I was born with hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a defect in which my left ventricle of my heart was severely underdeveloped. I received a transplant at 20 days old. I had my transplant at Loma Linda University on December 29, 1988. I am Dr. Leonard Bailey's 30th infant heart transplant patient. Fortunately, I have been very lucky to not have had any major issues for most of my life post-transplant.
However, in June 2017, I was diagnosed with arrhythmia issues. My cardiologists in Santa Barbara noticed my irregular heartbeats when they read my routine EKG that I had prior to going to Cedars Sinai for my semi-annual check up. I was under the impression the doctors at Cedars and SB were going to discuss with me a time for which an ablation would be scheduled to fix my arrhythmia. When I went to my semi-annual appointment that Thursday, however, I was admitted that day and stayed in Cedars for six days where I underwent four small procedures to correct my arrhythmia. I first received a Trans-Esophageal Echo where the doctors put a tube down my throat to check for any clots they may not see on a typical, external echo...luckily they did not see any clots, so they were able to procede with a Cardioversion. This is a procedure in which the doctors essentially shocked my heart back to normal rhythm. I was monitored through the weekend, and had my angiogram and biopsy done that Monday to be sure my body was not rejecting my heart.
Though, the past year has been a more difficult one for me than in past years, I am so very grateful for all of my family, friends, and doctors who have continuously been there for me throughout everything. I would not be here today without my parents making the incredibly difficult decision to allow me to undergo a heart transplant at just 20 days old, nor would I have been able to emotionally make it through my arrhythmia correctional procedures without their support.
With all of that said, I have been involved with American Heart Association since I was a child. My parents have always taught me the importance of giving back. So to be a part of AHA's heart walk has always been something I've been involved with. My mom used to speak at AHA & LLUMC luncheons when I was younger, and encouraged me to apply, and sign up for Camp Del Corazon as a summer camp counselor. I have been volunteering as a counselor at CDC since 2011. Being a camp counselor has provided me with a wonderful opportuntiy to be a role model and mentor to children with heart disease. It makes me feel like I am making a difference in the world knowing I am able to spend time with children who have had similar experiences that I have throughout my life. In addition to my volunteer work with children, I am also a paraeducator for the SB Unified School District. I am an aide for children within special education at Washington Elementary, and I absolutely LOVE my job!
My AHA Heart Walk team name is Team Krazy Heart because that is my camp name at Camp Del Corazon...that's what the kids and fellow counselors call me.