Buffy McKinney O Fallon, IL

There was never any heart disease in my family. That all changed on August 12, 2010 when my first grandson, Brody, was born with a congenital heart defect called ASD/VSD.

The thought was that the holes would eventually close themselves so they released him from the hospital. Two weeks after releasing him my daughter and husband were at lunch and my husband noticed that Brody was turning blue and not breathing. God saw fit that day to have EMT's that were just leaving after their lunch who performed CPR and rushed him to the hospital where he spent the next 2 and a half months of his life. During that time it was determined that the hole in the bottom part of his walnut sized heart was as large as a nickel and if they did not perform open heart surgery to close the hole he would not survive another month. Thanks to research and his knowledgeable doctors he is now a healthy, terrorizing toddler.

I have worked for the AHA for over 5 years now and early in my career I loved my job because of the wonderful volunteers and survivors that I got to work with. This experience has given a new meaning to my job and the importance of medical research to people every day.