Adult Survivor of Congenital Heart Disease Speaks With Cardiac Kids

Deb close up
Deborah Flaherty-Kizer, in red, talks with the Cardiac Kids and their families on Saturday, April 29 at the American Heart Association.

When Deborah Flaherty-Kizer was born nearly 60 years ago, her parents were told, “Your baby might not live.” She was blue and only weighed 4 pounds. After her admission to the US Naval Academy was rescinded due to a “heart issue,” she was diagnosed with Ebstein’s Anomaly. She had her first open-heart surgery two years ago.

On Saturday, April 29, Deb joined the Cardiac Kids Paint Party at the American Heart Association to share her story. The Cardiac Kids are children born with a congenital heart defect, and their families, who meet regularly.  

“We are looking forward to meeting Deb,” said Jennifer Corcoran Conway, a partner at Tully Rinckey, member of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association, and parent of 5-year-old Aedan, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. “We attend the Capital Region Heart Walk because we have a long journey to walk with our children, and want to be sure that scientific advances can be made to help them live long and happy lives. Meeting a CHD survivor who has lived a full and happy life is so encouraging.

“My goal has always been to thrive, not just survive,” said Flaherty-Kizer, who has written a book called A Journey of the Heart: Learning to Thrive, Not Just Survive, With Congenital Heart Disease. 

Growing up, I often felt alone and isolated with my disease, not knowing what the extent of it was and why I couldn’t keep up with the other children,” Flaherty-Kizer, who is also a member of the American Heart Association’s BetterU 2017 class, said. “I’m so grateful that The American Heart Association has a Cardiac Kids group so no child or family will ever feel alone living with congenital heart disease. I’m honored to share my story with this very special group.”

You can meet The Cardiac Kids at the June 3 Capital Region Heart Walk and Run. Sign up now at!

Beacon Health Options is the sponsor of The Cardiac Kids.


Leave a Comment