Chrissy had open heart surgery at the age of 12 for an atrial septal defect and again at the age of 45. In 2011, while walking at the school track Chrissy began to feel pressure in her chest that was so intense, she describes that it felt like somebody was sitting on it. She didn’t think it had anything to do with her heart because she had been seeing a cardiologist every year, and a few months before he said that she looked great and that he didn’t need to see her for two years. Chrissy didn’t call 9-1-1 because the track was behind her boys’ school and she was worried that if they saw the ambulance and saw her car there, that they would know it was her and she didn’t want to worry them. She found out later she had atrial flutter, caused from the scar tissue from the surgery that she had in 1978. Looking back now, her best advice would tell everyone; don’t hesitate, call 9-1-1.
Chrissy was named a 2013-2014 Go Red for Woman Spokesperson and has been an active advocate ever since! She wants the opportunity to help women of all ages understand the signs and symptoms of heart disease. Gaffney experienced heart disease as a child and as an adult, but is fortunate enough to be able to give back to the community as co-founder of, Youth Heart Watch of Central Mass, a foundation that provides free heart screening for youth ages 14-24 to prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). In addition she has been a strong advocate for teaching CPR in Schools and is currently working with her local schools in Worcester to have them teach CPR as a Graduation Requirement. We are looking forward to recognizing these efforts and naming the schools as CPR SMART Schools.