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2014 Kentuckiana Heart Walk

September 20, 2014

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Introducing Steve Travis, the 2014 White Cap Ambassador!

I was born with multiple heart defects; transposition of the greater vessels, septal defect, tetralogy of fallot, as well as leaking mitral and tricuspid valves. At age six I had surgery to place a pulmonary conduit and patch the septal defect. At age 14 I had to have my second surgery to replace the pulmonary conduit with a larger one to match my growth.

During my second surgery an air bubble found a way into my blood stream, creating an air embolism, and causing me to have a stroke. I was kept unconscious for three days, in which I had eight seizures. When I awoke I was paralyzed on my left side. I spent the following six weeks in Frazier Rehabilitation Center and another four weeks in outpatient rehabilitation. I regained most of my motor control, with the exception of some dexterity issues and weakness in my left hand.

Within a year of my second surgery I began to show signs of heart failure. My doctors were able to stabilize it with a combination of medications, and I lived a normal quality of life for many years. When I was 26, just a few months after my wedding, I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. After multiple treatments, and eventually a cardiac ablation, the atrial fibrillation appeared to be beaten, only to have multiple other arrhythmias, including ventricular tachycardia. At that point an internal cardiac defibrillator/pacemaker was implanted. I have been defibrillated in emergency situations by the device twice in the last six months.

When I was 31 I began showing signs of increased heart failure. Just six months after my daughter was born it was determined that my pulmonary conduit had begun to pinch closed due to calcification, causing pressure to build up in my heart and force blood to flow backwards through my leaking valves. Unfortunately, it was determined at that time that my heart was too weak to survive another surgery. Since 2011 I have been on the list for a heart transplant, and have maintained a normal quality of life by maintaining a heart healthy diet and lifestyle.

The American Heart Association is the largest voluntary health organization working to prevent, treat and defeat heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. These diseases, the Nation's No.1 and No.4 killers, claim more than 813,804 American lives a year. Thanks to all our walkers, donors and volunteers who have accepted the challenge to help fight heart disease and stroke. We cannot achieve our mission without each one of you!

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