I was born with Transposition of the Great Arteries. For those of you who are unaware of this defect, my two main arteries going out of the heart, which are the Pulmonary Artery and the Aorta, are transposed. With this complication arising the day of birth, it sent my parents for an unexpected journey. At the age of 4 days old I had my first open heart surgery. After 11 hours, my parents were proud to hold the first surviving patient at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC for this particular surgery.
Complications arose after surgery, which lead to a three-month hospital stay helping to heal my infection. Once I was healthy enough to go home with my parents, I followed up plenty of routine check-ups with my Cardiologist.
At the age of 2 and ½, I went in for another open heart surgery due to Pulmonary Stenosis, which is a narrowing in the Pulmonary Valve. My parents were informed I would need another open-heart surgery to replace my stenoic valve. I lived a healthy life just as any other child, other than yearly check-ups with my Cardiologist.
With the minimal blood flow leading towards my left lung, they felt it was appropriate to try another intervention. When I was 24, I went in for a heart cauterization to insert a stent in hopes to increase blood flow towards my left lung. Our results weren’t as we expected, so on September 26, 2012 I had my third open-heart surgery, where they replaced my Pulmonary Artery with a pig’s valve. This was more a personal experience for me because I was so young to remember the first two. It is now a running joke that I am “part pig and part Meg.” With the support from my sister’s students, I am now a proud owner of over 50 homemade pig themed cards that I will continue to treasure forever. Who would of thought a pig’s valve would determine such a theme for my life!
Yoga Innovations holds a close spot in my heart, no pun intended! This studio has such a warm welcoming feeling that keeps me coming back for more. I would not have the strength and endurance I d0 today without the support from these instructors. Claire is always up to new adventures, just like leading 150 heart survivors in yoga on a hot summer day (left)at Dr. Bill Neches Heart Camp for Kids! This a place where children with heart conditions come from across the United States and Canada to enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Camp Kon-O-Kwee, a YMCA camp in Fombell, Pa.
Through laughter, nutrition, yoga, and a pig’s valve later, I have the strength two years later, feeling the healthiest I have ever felt. I believe it is my responsibility to share my story and stress how important it is to raise awareness.
Help me celebrate life and my journey at Yoga Innovation by joining us September 26th at 7:30 pm for a special Power Flow donation class benefiting this wonderful organization!
Don’t forget to open your heart, sweat like a pig, and have fun!
PS: This given day marks two years since my last open heart surgery, so why not celebrate? Click here to sign up!