A powerful journey from living with an artificial heart to a heart transplant....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What you can do TODAY.

Yesterday I was in Niagara Falls with my parents. I was scheduled to do a talk for an elementary school to kick-off Jump Rope for Heart. Who better to teach them a few things about heart disease, than someone with heart disease.

The students were very attentive and interested. Of course, free stuff always helps. I tossed little sponge hearts to kids that answered my questions correctly. (Well my Mom tossed them and I hope she doesn't quit her day job.) I asked questions like...

- What does the heart do?
- What can you do that's good for your heart?
- What kind of exercise is good for your heart?
- What food should you eat?
- What happens to someone when they have heart disease?

There really weren't any wrong answers. All the students participated from kindergarten all the way to grade 8. I was impressed with their knowledge.

Probably the most entertaining part was when I told them what it was like for me living with heart disease. I told them that I take lots of pills, I need lots of needles, I stay in the hospital alot, I have to see my doctor all the time, it is always difficult to breathe, I am always tired, I can't play sports and the best one... I can't go on rollercoasters. The crowd roared in disappointment. It was actually really funny. They are more concerned about roller coasters than they are about needles and hospitals.

After talking about heart disease I touched on my mechanical heart and organ donation. I was a little worried about how to present this discussion to the young kids. I tried to be very matter-of-fact and just tell it like it is. I think some of them were aware on my situation all ready because my Mom teaches at the school and they wonder why she was away for so long in the past. I told them that I need a new heart because mine doesn't work very well anymore. I told them that when someone dies they can donate their organs to other people so they can live. Plain and simple. Of course, I told them that one person that dies can save eight people!!

I gave them homework. This created some more uproar. Funny. I told them to go home and talk to their families and friends about this nice lady they met that is waiting for a new heart. Hopefully the next generation can bring a major change.

The most important things I wanted to stress are:


Eat properly.

Never, ever, never, never, NEVER smoke. EVER.

Talk to your family and friends about organ donation.

I also told them how sincerely thankful I am that they are raising money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation because they are saving lives. They are saving me.

(I had them put their fists in the air because your heart is about the size of your fist.)

1 comment:

  1. Andrea was an excellent speaker and the kids fell in love with her right away. They are still talking about her and often ask me how she is doing. It is now more personal for them since they have met her. Great job, Andrea!