I was born with a congenital heart defect; missing the mitral and pulmonary valves. I had two heart surgeries at birth and a third at age six. As a child, I remember going to the hospital for check-ups quite often and never being able to take gym class. It wasn’t really until I was a teenager though that I noticed things starting to really change, I was different, couldn’t do what other people my age could do. I watched my twin sister run track and thought how is she able to do that when I can barely make it up the stairs, so to speak. It became a chore to shower and I had to sleep sitting up. At that point I was in congestive heart failure and didn’t even know it.
The final straw happened at school in the 10th grade, age 16. My sister and I were walking up the stairs in the morning and I just couldn’t make it. It was like my legs wouldn’t let me move. June 8th , 1995 I went for a heart cath. which showed how bad the heart failure and pulmonary hypertension really were. I was in critical condition after the cath. Because it had been too much stress on my heart. My parents were told that night that I needed a heart transplant but preferably heart and lungs due to the pressures in my lungs being so high. I wouldn’t leave the hospital without a transplant.
I got my miracle of a Heart/Double Lungs 13 days later on June 21, 1995. Since my transplant, I have attended the Transplant Games with Team Pittsburgh now Alleghenies Transplant seven times, doing sporting events I would never have been able to do before.
My mother started a fundraiser for the team that was pretty simple for us to run since we live a ways away from most all the other fundraisers the team does. She was a teacher at the Titusville Middle School so she got permission to do what we call a “Jeans Day.” On this day, any of the staff and teachers in all the school district who wear jeans pays $5 and that is donated to Team Alleghenies Transplant. To make sure everyone understands what it is all about I always write a letter and forward it throughout the district. The letter talks about the team, the games, and me.
I also love photography and hot rods and have currently had the opportunity to work with my neighbor at least two days a week in his hot rod shop. So life if good!!!