Congenital heart disease survivor and dad named inaugural New York City Leader of Impact winner

Two years ago, Christopher Frey, a 40-year-old father of two from Long Island, was in a medically induced coma after checking into the emergency room with severe shortness of breath following Thanksgiving dinner.

What happened next was one week in a coma, 100 days in the hospital, and a new heart.

Throughout his 2020 heart transplant journey, Frey attempted to remain positive and was motivated to return home to his young family.

“No matter what, I knew giving up was not an option,” Frey said. “I have a family I have to go home to. I have boys to raise.”

This December, Frey, who was born with a congenital heart condition and had live with congenital heart disease his entire life, became the winner of the American Heart Association’s first-ever New York City Leaders of Impact Campaign.

Frey and the inaugural class raised $136,888 to fund and advance the mission of the American Heart Association.

“It is an honor to be named the 2022 New York City Leaders of Impact winner,” Frey said. “I want to thank Dr. Anu Lala at Mount Sinai Heart for nominating me, my supporters for their generous donations, and my wife for being the strongest person I’ve ever known.”

As an advocate for the American Heart Association, Frey is determined to raise awareness in fellow adults who were born with a congenital heart condition.

“Two years ago was the lowest point of my life; I was experiencing heart failure and didn’t know if I’d make it home again,” Frey said. “Each and every day I am grateful to have another day with my family and to have the opportunity to share my story in the hopes of helping others continue their care into adulthood.”

To learn more about congenital heart disease please visit

Leaders of Impact aims to bring the work of the American Heart Association into the community. This 7-week blind competition is relentlessly focused on driving equitable health for all. Launching on World Heart Day, September 19, nominees across the country work to build campaign plans, recruit teams, and inspire their networks to support the AHA’s life-saving mission.

At the end of the campaign, the nominee that makes the greatest impact and raises the most funds locally are named a Leaders of Impact winner. Additionally, the nominee who raises the most funds nationwide will be named the American Heart Association 2022 National Leaders of Impact winner.

For more information about the New York City Leaders of Impact please visit: