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Canadian Congenital Heart Alliance

Faces of CHD

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During 2019 Heart Awareness Month, we will be highlighting CHD stories of our members.

Our next Faces of CHD story is about Rita. You can read Rita's story below. For previous stories, see bottom of page.

Faces of CHD_ Rita              

Rita from Lethbridge, AB

Age: 49

CHD diagnosis:  Tetralogy of Fallot

I was born January 1970 in Lethbridge, AB.  Within one week I was diagnosed with a heart murmur, and by one month of age, referred to Dr. R. Sommerville in Calgary, AB. I was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot.  At around four months of age, I had my first surgery, by in Vancouver BC. In 1978, I went back to Vancouver for another open heart surgery.


The great news is that after this second surgery I felt fantastic, I got married in 2001 and life was “normal”.  Since my cardiologist had retired, I was not followed until 2001 when I returned to care in Calgary, AB. The greatest concern, was that all of my old patient records, had been destroyed!   All I had was a handwritten letter from my Mom, who is an RN. Make sure you are always followed by a cardiologist! After a series of lengthy delays, I received a third heart surgery in Edmonton to replace my pulmonary valve in 2010.  By this time I had one episode of Atrial Fibrillation.


If I had to give advice on CHD, I would say – ask a lot of questions, and be honest with your doctors about your lifestyle, and plans for the future.  Also, stay as active as you are able, it will help to keep you strong.


It can be really challenging to stay positive when you aren’t well.  I really appreciated being on the CCHA forum while I was recovering from surgery at home.  It made me feel like other people could understand the difficulties I was facing.


I worry about having more surgeries, about not being well, or able to self-care.  I worry about the effect on my family.


One of the things I’m most grateful for is the support of family and friends and for the wonderful people who I have met on this journey.


Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my experience with the community of CCHA and anyone who has been touched by Congenital Heart Disease.



See below for previous Faces of CHD stories


Michelle K's story Faces of CHD Michelle's story   PDF icon Download Michelle K_Faces of CHD story.pdf (1.02 MB)

Amanda C's story CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - Amanda  PDF icon Download Amanda C_Faces of CHD story.pdf (837.88 KB)

Shelley C's story CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - Shelley  PDF icon Download Shelley C_Faces of CHD story.pdf (933.36 KB)

Matt S's story  CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - Matt   PDF icon Download Matt S_Faces of CHD story.pdf (266.43 KB)

Caleb and Kerri's story  CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - Caleb and Kerri  PDF icon Download Kaleb and Kerri's_Faces of CHD story.pdf (216.68 KB)

Lisa D's story  CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - Lisa   PDF icon Download Lisa D_ Faces of CHD story.pdf (116.61 KB)

Adam Z's CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - Adam story https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/adam-zinatelli-trumpet-surgery-heart-cpo-1.4963854?fbclid=IwAR1lrDvi0zeUa_dEUXo0epI7oGyMVMS28AcQBT0ByJFESdpMuZDi95lBoyU  photo credit: (Masa Higuchi)

Sylvia G's story  CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada  PDF icon Download Sylvia G_Faces of CHD story.pdf (111.09 KB)

Karl S's story  CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - Karl    PDF icon Download Karl S_Faces of CHD story.pdf (91.35 KB)

Jacey H's story  CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - Jacey  PDF icon Download Jacey H_Faces of CHD story.pdf (206.75 KB)

John G's story  CCHA Faces of CHD in Canada - John  PDF icon Download John G_Faces of CHD story.pdf (171.83 KB)


To read previous CHD stories, visit our Patient Stories page

About the Author

No bio available.
Check out how congenital heart disease stacks up against better recognized diseases in Canada! So many affected and so little awareness and funding! Get involved with CCHA, donate, and spread the word about the growing population of of "survivors" so that we can get the care and support we need to live long, healthy lives!


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