I am a wife, a mother of three teenage children, a business woman, a group fitness instructor, a church volunteer, a RI legislative advocate, and my most proud accomplishment, the one that has allowed me to achieve all of the above - a Survivor of a congenital heart defect.
My name is Laurie Stephenson. In 1972 as a newborn baby, in Providence Rhode Island, I was diagnosed with severe Pulmonary Stenosis, a structural defect in which the pulmonary value developed malformed, and was too narrow for the blood to properly flow through to the chambers of the heart. This defect required me to have open heart surgery as a newborn baby to correct the malformed value. This defect caused me to undergo another corrective open heart surgery four years later, and a third one to replace the pulmonary value with a bovine valve as recently as only five years ago. Each of these surgeries has proven successful and I have been able to live my life full of energy, full of fitness, and without restriction. However, my heart related procedures are not finished. I will require another surgery to replace the bovine valve as the life of this valve type is approximately 20 years. It is because of this need for continual care that I work as an advocate for the American Heart Association and desire increased research funding to create better outcomes for all Congenital Heart Disease Survivors.