Cora: I’m truly blessed
For 43 years, Cora couldn’t get help for a heart defect she’d had since birth.
Born with a heart that couldn’t pump enough blood to her lungs, she tried not to let her condition get in her way. But when her brother, sister and other kids were running and playing sports, she sat on the sidelines. Even climbing stairs was sometimes hard. And her heart beat so loud she could hear it even when she was sitting still.
Doctors told her parents there was nothing they could do. Still, she was determined to live as normal a life as possible, and worked as a bank clerk, got married, and had two children.
But as time went on, Cora’s condition worsened, making her pass out when she pushed herself too hard. Even two procedures to restore blood flow to her lungs failed.
One day, Cora received what she calls “a miracle” in the mail: a letter from U-M’s specialized program for adults with congenital heart conditions. A joint effort by adult cardiologists and the pediatric specialists of the Michigan Congenital Heart Center, it’s one of few programs of its kind.
During her first visit, Cora received her first glimpse of hope in 43 years. Tests revealed an area of heart muscle blocking the blood flow from the right side of her heart through a valve and into the lungs — as well as a previously undetected hole in her heart.
After successful open-heart surgery by a U-M team, and careful follow-up care, Cora marvels at the difference that the proper diagnosis has made.
“They fixed everything!,” she says. “And now I have the energy of a bionic woman. I can go to parties and I don’t need to come home early because it’s too much for me. I can go up and down stairs and not get winded. I am truly blessed.”
That energy is coming in handy right about now, as Cora plans parties for her son’s graduation from high school and her daughter’s graduation from college. While she celebrates their achievements, she’ll also be celebrating the fact that she’s there to join the party.