Stories of Inspiration

If you would like to read more Stories of Inspiration, visit the Heartbeat Magazine archive page and click on the “Heart Hero” links. If you or someone you know want to be featured in this department, please submit your idea to or call 1-888-HEART99 (1-888-432-7899).

September 29, 2010


Being There: A Rochester nurse is reminded of why she chose her profession

As she approached the helicopter pad, Jackie Greene, a cardiac nurse at Rochester General Hospital, noticed the helicopter was landing in an unusual manner. Before the blades could slow down, security was calling. Jackie knew something wasn’t right.

Jackie and her team pulled the gurney out and started chest compressions as they wheeled Ron Wheat into the emergency department.

Ron survived his heart condition and has been a visiting member for Chapter #50, Rochester, NY. since 2003, primarily visiting pacemaker/defibrillator and angioplasty patients at Rochester General Hospital. He sees Jackie often when he volunteers at the hospital.

“I call her my angel,” Ron said. “She saved my life and I think of that very often.”

For Jackie, her encounter with Ron helped remind her why she chose to be a nurse.

Click here to read more about Jackie’s story.

September 9, 2010


Grandmother shares what it means to be part of a Mended Little Hearts family

When Sheri Shafer’s daughter found out at 33 weeks that her son, Gabriel, was going to be born with heart problems the family felt all alone.

Instead of having the baby in their hometown of Erie, Sheri’s daughter would have to give birth at Pittsburgh Children’s Hospital. Sheri tried to stay positive for her daughter, but fear and empty feelings about the future loomed.

After doing some research, Sheri found Mended Little Hearts online, which is where she met Andrea, the Mended Little Hearts of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s chapter’s coordinator.

Andrea and her son Trenton joined Sheri and her family at the hospital, during Gabriel’s first surgery.

“…..they were our rock. To know we weren’t alone in a strange town all by ourselves, and to see the love and compassion in there eyes….words could never express how much this meant to us.”

Click here to read more about Sheri’s Mended Little Hearts family.

August 25, 2010


Encouraged by visits, a heart patient becomes a Mended Hearts member

In 1990, Harvey Steron’s doctor told him to talk to a cardiologist regarding what he thought was general malaise. One stress test and an overnight stay at Rochester General Hospital, Harvey found himself being prepped for a triple bypass procedure.

Mended Hearts members from his local chapter visited Harvey as he recovered from surgery. At the end of 1991, Harvey became an accredited visitor as well. He is now in his 18th year of visiting and has 10 years of experience as visiting chairman.

Click here to read his full story on The Mended Hearts Blog.

July 11, 2010


Part of the Journey: How one heart patient found Mended Hearts in a desire to provide hope

When Heidi Dohse was 13 she complained to her parents that she would get light headed. Her parents took her to the doctor who determined her problem was a lack of salt in her diet. Heidi continued to feel like something was wrong.

“No one could really find anything wrong,” Heidi said, “so I just felt like no one believed me.”

There were other signs that something wasn’t right. Heidi could never find her pulse.

It wasn’t until Heidi was scheduled for knee surgery five years later that someone suggested something wasn’t right with Heidi’s heart. A year later Heidi received her first Pacemaker at 19.

Heidi continued an active lifestyle involving competitive sports such as adventure racing and mountain biking.

“I have never considered myself as a heart patient,” she said, “I just considered myself as someone with a bad electrical system and we fixed it.”

Twenty years later Heidi scar had opened up. There was an infection and she required another surgery to repair the leads.

“I thought they were just going to give me more antibiotics and it would fix it, but I went in and they told me I needed emergency surgery.”

Heidi’s leads to her pacemaker had become infected and had to be replaced.

“When the leads had gone bad, that’s when, for me, I turned into a real heart patient.”

After this surgery, Heidi began doing research to find support for heart patients.

“Having open heart surgery is a big deal. I finally had to come to grips with the fact that I was a heart patient,” she said. “And it is kind of a life-changing experience because you can go into something like this and maybe not come out. “

Heidi wanted to find a place where she could talk to other heart patients.

“I wanted to talk to someone just to fill in those missing pieces. Because you just want to talk about it. It is really scary for all the people who care about you to really relive it, so in looking for people who have been through it. People that can have the conversations with it being light hearted and say “yeah, this is what happens” and not have it be a really dramatic thing.”

Heidi discovered Mended Hearts on the Internet this past April and felt she had found what she was looking for. Three and a half months after her previous heart surgery, Heidi attended her first Mended Hearts convention.

“I thought this could be a really good fit not only to get that kind of support, here is a room full of heart patients who have been through the same thing, and they get it without it being really scary. I realized I could also share my experience about being a heart patient and give back because there are other people like me who are asking, what happens? What happens on the other side once you are a survivor?”

Click here to read Heidi’s full story on The Mended Hearts Blog.

June 17, 2010


Heart patient continues journey in sharing her story of healing with others through her Mended Hearts chapter

When Kimberly Goodloe went to the hospital last February, she knew she was going into surgery to receive a new heart valve. What she didn’t know was that four days later she would need to receive a pacemaker.

After her surgery, Kimberly decided that her journey would not end with recovery. She called the American Heart Association looking for a support group for heart patients and their families. In January 2010, she joined Atlanta’s Mended Hearts Chapter #81 and began doing hospital visits in February.

“I was discharged from the hospital on February 23, 2009. I was in a wheel chair, could barely walk, Victor, my husband, helped me get into the van,” she said. “A year later, I return to the hospital as a volunteer [with Mended Hearts].”

Click here to read about Kimberly’s journey.

June 17, 2010


Heart patient creates “anticipators” to help recover from heart surgery

Mended Hearts member-at-large Adam Robinson realized that hospitals, doctors, and nurses are the best at attending to a patient’s every need, but when it came to the emotional care of a patient, Adam knew no one has the touch of family. A hug, a kiss on the cheek, a loving smile, words of encouragement, a rub on the shoulder, the need to help that special person– that’s what families do best.

As he prepared himself for surgery, Adam was already focused on his recovery by creating anticipators.

Click here to read more about how Adam prepared his family for his surgery by assigning them specific rolls to help him through his recovery.

May 13, 2010


Mended Little Hearts mother finds supporting online community

Mallori could feel herself go weak, as the doctors tried to explain what was wrong with Tyler’s heart.

“I didn’t hear any of it. My ears were ringing and I was crying and shaking,” Mallori said, remembering that moment.

Mallori and her family drove two hours away to meet Tyler at the hospital. By the time they arrived, they had already run many tests, and Tyler was settled in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

The pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon came in and spent an hour and a half explaining Tyler’s diagnosis of ALCAPA (anomalous left coronary artery from pulmonary artery). A major artery was not attached to his heart and had deprived the muscle of oxygen since birth. His mitral valve was weak from the oxygen deprivation and he had an aneurysm from a silent heart attack that they estimated to be a few months old–making him only a few months old at the time of the heart attack.

In less than 24-hours doctors were rushing Tyler off to surgery. He was in the operating room for eight hours. Finally, .Dr. Kahn came out . Tyler was doing well, and his heart was beating on its own.

The surgeon repaired the artery with a cadaver artery, and did not have to touch the aneurysm or the valve. Tyler spent a little over two weeks recovering in the hospital.

Today, Tyler is an intelligent and loving four-year-old little boy , not at all aware of the obstacles he has overcome.

Click here to read more about Mallori’s journey with her little warrior Tyler and how the Mended Little Hearts online community has helped give her hope.