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Anne Howell

by Arlene Z. on Friday, September 14, 2012

Anne Howell, North Carolina

I inherited a condition from my mother known as cardiomyopathy. I have an enlarged left ventricle that pumps inefficiently causing irregular and life threatening rhythms. Two of her four daughters are afflicted with it and my sister’s daughter also has the condition. With the help of research, technology has caught up with our issue to a certain extent. For the past 20 years my sister and I have received 10 defibrillators (between the two of us), known as ICDs to keep any dangerous rhythms in check. Through the advancement of technology each subsequent device got smaller in size and more effective with pacing capabilities, and the surgery became less invasive.

My mother unfortunately died from this disease back in 1981. She would be thrilled to know her daughters and granddaughter have the benefit of new technology to help with our heart disease.

This disease is degenerative so I eventually received a heart transplant in 2009. I am thriving and so happy to have quality of life. This would not be possible without ongoing medical research. I feel so alive now. I am aware of each breath I take. I can NOW take a deep breath. I can now be unafraid to laugh too hard or cry too long because of fear of going into a fatal arrhythmia. I am a whole person once again. It feels good to 'feel good!!!'

My sister Jane’s time on the transplant list is now (pictured on the left). I know she will have to get sicker in order to move up on the list, priority-wise, and it just breaks my heart, but we will endure this process as a family once again.

My sister knows what she is facing in the coming months. I have been there and it is quite horrible, to feel like you have the flu every day, to try to do simple everyday tasks while you are ‘breathing through a straw.’ Congestive heart failure is usually associated with the elderly. Jane and I have had these symptoms for years and our bodies compensated for a long time. 

Her mother and I know she will be able to keep her heart as new technology develops in the coming years.  Now our goal is to keep moving forward to help my niece enjoy a healthy and long life. We appreciate SO MUCH what the American Heart Association and modern science has done for our family.  With adequate funding for future research, I hope you can keep up the good work!