Brandie and her three year old daughter, Deja at the annual Red Dress Gala.
Brandie knows from personal experience the importance of seeing her cardiologist regularly. When Brandie was only two months old, she had open heart surgery to correct a heart defect that had been past down by her mother. Following her initial surgery, Brandie continued to see a pediatric cardiologist, but that changed when she turned 18.
When Brandie turned 18, she lost her insurance and became unable to afford the specialty care she needed. She realized just how important it was once she lost it. When she was pregnant with her daughter, she received Medicaid and she was able to see a cardiologist during her high risk pregnancy. Her daughter, Deja, was also born with a heart defect and had open heart surgery when she was only 5 months old. Both mom and daughter did well after Deja’s birth and surgery and they continued on with their lives, but Brandie once again lost her health insurance coverage.
Over the next few years, Brandie would visit the Emergency Room with different signs and symptoms related to her heart condition – unable to afford her cardiology appointments. During one of those ER visits, she thought she was having a heart attack. Doctors determined that she wasn’t having a heart attack, but the pressure of her heart had fallen dangerously low and a heart cath confirmed she had several blockages. During this visit, doctors determined Brandie had congestive heart failure and Brandie wound up in the operating room once again to receive a defibulator and an extra lead for her pace maker to help strengthen her heart.
Since her latest surgery last September, Brandie feels stronger, less tired and is working hard to make life changes and now eats healthier and has stopped smoking.
When asked about the care she has received she was overwhelmed when thinking about the support and care she has received from the nurses to the doctors at Greenville Health System.
“If it weren’t for these services and the supportive care team, I don’t know if I would be here,” said Brandie. “Thank you to the staff that have helped bridge my care from childhood to adulthood and who have helped me navigate a difficult disease not only for me, but for my daughter.”
Her experience has allowed her to see the difference her own voice can make when sharing her story with others. Brandie is an advocate for heart disease and a wearer of red not only during February’s Heart Health Awareness month, but year round. Brandie volunteers her time by speaking with community groups about her illness, raising awareness for heart health and even has plans to begin planning small fundraisers to benefit Greenville Health System’s heart programs.