I was diagnosed with a malformed aortic valve when I was 2 ½ years old and when I was in my 20’s I started having symptoms that my heart condition was getting worse. Unfortunately, like what happens to many women, my symptoms were not taken seriously by my doctors. That misdiagnosis almost cost me my life. At the age of 31, I was finally taken seriously. By then, I was in advanced heart failure with an aortic valve that stopped working and a massive aortic aneurysm that had started to rupture while I was on the operating table. I had full open heart surgery; my aortic valve and a large part of my aorta were replaced with a section from a pig. Growing-up with a heart condition, all I ever wanted was to be “normal” – to have a healthy heart and be able to run and play with my friends just like everyone else. That was never an option for me, I never had that choice.