Suzie Chase Brown and Maggie Brown are two heart survivors who are passionate about advocating for change with the American Heart Association.
Both born with Congenital Heart Defects they have told their compelling story to decision makers drafting rules for a bill that will improve how congenital heart defects are detected in newborns.
They have attended state and federal Lobby Days, participated in the Survivor Fashion Show, spoken at the Go Red for Women Summit and helped raise money through the Heart Walks. Most recently, their testimony helped move lifesaving pulse-oximetry screening forward in Texas.
“The American Heart Association has provided so many volunteer opportunities for my family!” said Suzie. “My daughter started participating in the Heart Walk when she was in a stroller. My mom spoke on behalf of the AHA in a public service announcement.
My favorite volunteer event took place last year in Washington, D.C. when my 10 year old son, 5 year old daughter and I were asked to lobby members of Congress on behalf of the AHA. We were given all the information we needed to ask for NIH funding and support for hypertension awareness programs. We are the examples of how the American Heart Association can directly affect lives!”
May 2014 will mark 40 years since Suzie Chase Brown had open heart surgery at the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama, Birmingham by the legendary Cardiologist, Dr. John Kirklin. Suzie was born with an atrial septal defect and mitral valve cleft, which were only discovered because her parents noted that Suzie wasn’t growing at the same rate as other children on the playground. At the age of 4 1/2, Suzie’s congenital heart defects were considered a ‘fluke’ but her surgery was considered a success.
Thanks to advances in medicine, when Suzie’s daughter, Maggie, was born on October 1st, 2008, a pediatric cardiologist in Austin, Texas walked into the recovery room and told Suzie that her daughter had identical congenital heart defects, and asked who else in the family had heart disease.
While the same two defects were not prevalent, Suzie discovered that her mom had been managing hypertension for 30 years, Suzie’s maternal grandmother, who was 100 years old at the time, had congestive heart failure, Suzie’s cousin was being treated for heart disease and her paternal grandmother had died in her mid-80’s following a massive stroke. All of the women (4 generations) in Suzie and Maggie’s family have or had some form of heart disease!
April 21, 2014 will mark 4 years since Maggie had her successful open heart surgery by Dr. Charles Fraser at Texas Children’s Hospital. Suzie, Maggie and Tiger (Maggie’s doting brother) consider it a personal mission to spread the word about
1. The need for all people to have a baseline cardiac check
2. Take care of their hearts through lifestyle and diet changes and
3. Raise awareness (and money) to support cardiac programs at schools and in communities so we can all live longer and healthier lives!