Hello, my name is Amanda Rowe. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and patient. Some of you might know me as Amanda Garcia. AKA Michelle’s daughter.
This organization has impacted our family immensely since my mother’s involvement, beginning in the fall of 2007. In those early years with Championship Hearts Foundation, our whole family helped and volunteered during Saturday screenings.
During one of the screenings, I was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve and moderate aortic insufficiency. Not exactly what Dr. Rodgers was looking for, but none the less I distinctly remember him asking me, “Amanda, where’s your mother?”
Bicuspid valve affects between 1 and 2 percent of the population and is one of the most common congenital heart defects. I was very lucky enough to have mine diagnosed at an early age when I wasn’t having symptoms. I was able to have annual checkups with my cardiologist, and of course dates with the treadmill for my stress tests.
Throughout the next few years, I became a Registered Nurse and helped care for patients after they had open heart surgery. Some patients were even a few years younger than myself. That was very humbling.
I continued my career and achieved my Doctorate in Nursing Anesthesia to become a Nurse Anesthetist. I learned how to provide anesthesia for patients undergoing open heart surgeries and even joined the ‘heart team’ after graduation. I took care of patients and watched over them as they underwent the exact surgery, I knew I would need one day.
Then the symptoms started, and I ‘qualified’ for an aortic valve replacement. Devastated doesn’t begin to address my feelings at the time. I was 28 years old. This doesn’t happen to 28-year olds. Not me. I was in control. But God had other plans.
I then became the patient, and had my aortic valve replaced on August 9th of 2016, just 8 years after I was diagnosed. I received a cow valve, so as appropriate, her name is Bessie. Everything with surgery went very well. I was home on post op day 5 and working out at cardiac rehab 3 weeks later.
Looking back, I can see now that God had specifically placed an amazing network of friends and healthcare professionals to support myself and my family. From my surgeon, to my nurse practitioners, to my nursing friends caring for me in the ICU.
I returned to work after 8 weeks and went back to providing anesthesia on the ‘heart’ team. I am thankful to be able to connect with my patients; to answer their questions as a provider and as a patient. I am thankful for the ability to reassure them and give them realistic expectations for their operative course.
After my surgery my doctors gave their blessings, and my husband and I became pregnant with our daughter. Abigail Grace was born in January of 2018 and she is the light of our world.
We are so very thankful for the knowledge of my bicuspid valve and aortic insufficiency. So that when it was time for me to have surgery and ‘be the patient’, surgery was under the conditions of a planned and controlled environment.
Because of the knowledge from a quick screening as an adolescent; I am able to stand before you as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and patient.