HEART TO HEART RELAY INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
My name is Kelly, I am 41 years old and was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I have been into sports and have always enjoyed running. Exercise has been an important part of my life and an example I set for my children. I have completed many local running events over the years.
In December 2013, as a healthy mother of two, I suffered a TIA (mini-stroke) at the age of 35. Completely shook, I wasn’t sure if I would ever run again. But slowly I returned to running and set new goals. I learned that life can change in a moment and to live each day to the fullest. I gained a true appreciation for my health and desire to persevere despite adversity. I completed the Buffalo Half Marathon in 2016, 2017 and 2018 improving my time each year and loving it.
At the beginning of 2018, I turned 40 and felt the strongest I had felt in my adult life. I continued to run and exercise regularly.
Life changed in July of that year, when I suffered a head injury, which led to the finding of an acute ischemic stroke in August. This news was both frightening and devastating …I truly felt defeated. Due to this second stroke event, despite appropriate medical therapy, I was referred to Dr. David Zlotnick and the Gates Vascular Institute (GVI) to discuss closure of a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO) which is a hole in my heart that didn’t close the way it should have after birth. Although up to 25% of the population has a PFO, it can increase the risk for stroke in some. My PFO was discovered in 2013 but closure was not recommended at that time.
In October, 2018, I underwent the cardiac catheterization procedure at GVI to close the PFO in my heart with a special device. Dr. Zlotnick and the team at GVI provided exceptional care from the preoperative workup to the day of surgery, recovery and follow up.
I am extremely grateful for the care I received and the confidence I felt in the latest cardiac research they were using to perform my procedure.
Slowly I am returning to regular physical activity again but knew I wouldn’t be ready to train for the half or full marathon this year. I came across an email talking about the Heart to Heart Marathon Relay to benefit Kaleida and the Gates Vascular Institute. I could not believe it! Of all years, I would have the opportunity to create a team of family and friends, train, fundraise and complete an event as living proof of the amazing work being performed at GVI. I am proud to represent the positive outcome of one of the many successful procedures.
Gates Vascular Institute means so much to me. The research and procedures being performed each day are a true example of life saving, life changing work.
We are very fortunate to have such an amazing facility and medical staff with advancements in cardiac medicine right here in Western New York.
Thanks to Dr. Zlotnick and the team at GVI, I have significantly decreased my stroke risk, experienced cutting-edge medical care, improved the quality of my life and can continue to set an example of health, courage and strength to my two boys ages 11 and 8.
I look forward to the Heart to Heart Relay as a goal for me but also a way to give back, and as a way of saying thank you for saving my life!
Taylor & Kaitlyn
Team Big Dogs
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