Real Life Survivor Heart Stories


Sandra A. Wright

In June of 2014, while on vacation in Chicago I was rushed to the hospital at the age of 58. I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Up until then, I had no signs of heart issues. Therefore, I was in denial the first year of my diagnosis. As time went on, the condition worsened. By the summer of 2017, I had to have a "Heart Transplant."

I give all praises to God! I am so grateful to the donor, and their family. In addition, to the awesome doctors, and nurses that cared for me. It is so important to listen to your body and the people that know and love you. Get regular checkups of your heart and vitals. Know your numbers and warning signs. In addition, if you doubt a diagnosis, get a second or third opinion. You could possibly do yourself more harm by being in denial.

My experience has truly been life-changing! I'm so grateful that God spared my life. Now, I live each day FOR HIS GLORY, and to pay it forward by serving others as the Founder and President of the Greater Cincinnati African American Heart Association.

Pastor Jackie L. Jackson

I am Pastor Jackie L. Jackson, Heart Attack Survivor.

On June 6, 2006, while sitting at my desk working on a month’s end report. Unbeknown to me, I was about to embark on a journey that would not just change my life that day. But would change and be ever-present in life until the day that I take my last breath. Yes, you guessed it. I had a heart attack.

I drove myself to Mercy Fairfield Hospital. Why you may ask. Well, because Me Man. Me Good! (smile). After explaining what had been happening to me over the last hour or so, I was rushed in the back and had an EKG performed on me within minutes of arriving. And by then, I felt as if I was going down fast, and everything started moving at hyper-speed from that point on.
When I had the heart attack I had a 100% blocked artery and was weighing 275 pounds. Since then, I have gotten down to 213 lbs. And have been medicine-free for the last 3 years. To God Be The Glory!   

I have found that being mindful of what I eat. And getting plenty of exercise has its health benefits.


Cecily Foster

In 2007, at the age of 34, Cecily was pregnant with her second child. During her last trimester, she experienced fatigue, leg cramps, and swelling. She delivered her baby after 36 weeks of pregnancy. Three days after hospital discharge, she was diagnosed with Postpartum Cardiomyopathy, a form of heart failure that happens during the last month of pregnancy and up to six months postpartum.

Before Cecily’s diagnosis, she was healthy and active. After her diagnosis, she became tired, weak, and continued to have running thoughts of death and leaving her family behind. This eventually led to depression and hopelessness, which lasted for about 5 years. With prayer and the support of her family and friends, she made it through mentally and physically.
Maternal mortality rates have reached a critical level in the black community. The lack of access to quality and affordable health care plays a role, as do overlapping health disparities. Cecily has been reaching out to her community by advocating and educating black women about how to stay heart-healthy and identifying current barriers.

Today Cecily is thriving, doing well is happy and living life.

Noah Johnson

Noah Johnson was born with Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a birth
defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. During fetal development in pregnancy, HLHS can occur when the left side of the heart does not form correctly.
Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome is one type of a congenital heart defect.
Congenital means present at birth.

Today, Noah is a thriving 12-year-old who still faces many challenges such as growth, height, and weight issues. He has regular visits to an endocrinologist, a
gastrologist, nephrology, and a hematology doctor. His condition also requires routine lab tests for his heart. Due to his extensive treatment, he also has academic challenges to overcome. Noah’s heart isn’t perfect, however, it’s good and steady. As a young man, he has an old soul with a booming personality. His love for old-school music and his dance moves will amaze you.

Noah aspires to be an entertainer and become famous.

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Erica Johnson, Noah's Mom

Greater Cincinnati African American Heart Association has given me and my family an abundance of hope.


It is reassuring knowing that we have a foundation that understands and supports and will help my son and family with many resources that can help us thrive.

As a single mother, the foundation has empowered me not to feel like I’m stuck and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the first annual benefit dinner, I was full of joy and somewhat nervous but most of all, grateful for all that is to come.

Mrs. Sandra Wright gave me the courage to tell our story. Hearing her story touched my heart because she understood and could relate. We finally feel like we have support that truly cares and that will help us through our life long journey. It is my hope for all who has a heart story, they too feel encouraged to share.

Jeanie Moss

My name is Jeanine L. Moss and my heart story is not only unique, rare, and impactful it is what encouraged me to not only advocate, but educate Black women on the importance of researching for themselves, gather questions, and refuse to settle with being under/misdiagnosed. 
During the year 2005 at 29, I begin experiencing significant chest pains, dizziness, and shortness of breath as an active service member in the United States Army. After several x-rays, blood work, and tests I was informed that I was experiencing anxiety and nothing could be wrong with me because I was young, within good BMI, and was active. Fast forward 12 years of experiencing these symptoms without acknowledging something was actually wrong; I collapsed while running preparing for a physical fitness test after having a baby. 
On May 14, 2017, at 40 years old my life changed forever when I was rushed to the hospital due to consistent chest pain, and even after significant tests, which several were abnormal, I was informed nothing was wrong. This time I didn’t receive the report, but I researched my symptoms, wrote down my concerns and my assessments/tracking of my own health, and sought out another opinion and on June 20, 2017. due to my own diligence, I found a cardiologist who not only correctly diagnosed me but made me aware of other rare genetic matters that affect my cardio-circulatory system. 
Although there is no cure, surgery, and research is still being conducted for my disorder, which is Coronary Microvascular Dysfunction (CMVD), I am encouraged because I now at least know what my disorder is and I am able to advocate, motivate, and educate others on how to ensure they receive the care they deserve!


Joan Massey

I am Joan Massey, my heart journey started in October 2009. I woke up one morning and couldn't catch my breath. I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with CHF, congested heart failure. Over the years I had a total of 4 stints put in. I was getting more tired and short of breath. Fast forward to December 2015. I woke up one morning and could not catch my breath. I call my husband and then called an ambulance. At the hospital, they found my heart was only functioning 15 percent. They sent me home with a portable defibrillator. Ten days later it happened again. Back at the hospital, they tell me I had a heart attack. I ask when? They asked me to tell them about my day prior. I told them I had major indigestion. I ate Tums all day and could not get relief. They said I was having a heart attack. The doctor said I was lucky to wake up that morning. I left the hospital and my doctor had the defibrillator put in my chest. She also told me there was nothing else they could do for me at this hospital so she was referring me to a specialist in New York.

I go to New York in February and meet the new cardiologist. She tells me I have to have a few tests. I come back on February 16 and she does a right heart cauterization. It's to show how much the heart is functioning. While I was on the table my doctor looked down at me and said your heart is only functioning 7 percent. We're getting your husband and we'll meet back in your room. Once they were all there my doctor explains since my heart is functioning only 7 percent she can't let me leave the hospital. I can't go home. Then she says I need a new heart. That doesn't even register in my head. So after a lot of tears and talking, I was admitted on that day, on Tuesday. She wanted to present my case on Thursday. So that day and all day Wednesday I went from test, scan, and exam one after another. Thursday morning at about 11:00 they came to tell me I was officially on the transplant list as a 1A, high priority. I was told I could be in the hospital for 9 months to a year because I'm O positive. All the other blood types can take an O but an O can only take an O.

I got my new heart on April 26, 2016. I left the hospital on May 13. I was 65 years old. The first year was very hard. I was in and out of the hospital many times. But I'm truly blessed with this miracle. 


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