Danielle Hammons, Nevada
My sister had her first open heart surgery at 21 years old. She was told that she would need to have one of her valves replaced with a mechanical valve. The doctor went on to explain that due to the medication that she would be required to take for the rest of her life she would never be able to have children. As you can imagine this was devastating news to our family. After speaking with the doctor again I asked if there was any other option. He explained that she could opt to receive an animal valve but it would need to be replaced in 15-20 years. She chose the animal valve and since her surgery, she has been doing great! It's because of the research that the American Heart Association has funded that my sister is alive today. I have a strong history of heart disease in my family, and there have been several surgeries that other members of my family have gone through, but this one really shows the diversity of the available medicine and I am thankful every day that I have my sister.