I am why: congenital heart defect survivor turns diagnosis into career passion

This guest blog is written by Rochester-area survivor Miranda Williamson, who is now studying at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

There was once a time 30 years ago when a child born with heart disease had little chance of living a normal life or possibly a life at all. Luckily, advancements are being made every day to help these children. When I was only a few hours old, I was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, a four-part condition that typically requires immediate medical attention. Since then, I have had two open-heart surgeries, which have inspired me to spread hope and make a difference in people’s lives experiencing similar things to my family and I. Twenty-one years later, I am a student in the Cardiovascular Perfusion program at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY. My degree from this program will give me competency to run the heart-lung machine in cardiac surgery. I have pursued this career in order to give back to the community that has done so much for me.

The greatest advice I was given regarding my condition growing up was to live life like nothing is wrong. My cardiologist at the time told my parents as I was growing up to let me be a normal kid, run around, play with other kids, and be involved at school and my community. He advised that if something were wrong I would tell them. As hard as this may be, it truly was the hallmark to me living a healthy life socially, mentally, and physically, and for that I will be eternally grateful to my first cardiologist. For those parents that are new to this experience, it is not easy. All I can say is trust the professionals that your child is in the hands of. With the technology we have today, there is so much hope for your child. This is in part thanks to the donations to and work of the American Heart Association. The money given here brings awareness to the leading cause of death in infants and adults. Yes, heart disease! So much has been done, but so much more can be accomplished with help from new volunteers and donations.