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Stories are personal at Pa. Heart Walk kickoff

July 21, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa.. - "It's Personal," the theme for this year's American Heart Association Heart Walk, is one that resonates with Jamie Reynolds of Chambersburg.

A registered nurse and mother of a 2-year-old boy, Reynolds was a patient rather than a healer 15 years ago when her heart was damaged by a viral infection.

What was first thought to be a sinus infection progressed from shortness of breath to severe chest pains.

"I could feel my heart racing," she said.

Doctors discovered the 12-year-old's heart had been reduced to 15 percent of normal function. Weeks in Hershey (Pa.) Medical Center with therapy to strengthen her heart proved unsuccessful, she said.

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"I was the first child to receive a heart transplant there," Reynolds said.

At Tuesday's kickoff for the Franklin/Fulton Division, team leaders of the Sept. 26 Heart Walk in Greencastle, Pa., another medical professional related how heart disease nearly took his life.

"We're sorry. We've done everything we can do. Give him a kiss and say goodbye," was what his wife heard from physicians in 1999, according to Dr. Lawrence Rogina. A day after his 40th birthday, the Waynesboro, Pa., obstetrician was stricken by ventricular tachycardia, where the lower chambers of his heart were "beating too fast and out of control," he said.

"My heart was beating 250 to 300 times a minute," Rogina said.

His life was saved by cardiac ablation, a procedure in which a radio frequency heats and destroys the part of the heart muscle causing the condition, Rogina said.

"Forty years ago, we were just seeing the beginnings of CPR and coronary care units," said Rogina, honorary chairman for this year's walk. Public education on heart disease also was in its infancy, he said.

He credited the American Heart Association with raising much of the money to fund research on therapies, surgical procedures and drugs that have saved and extended the lives of millions.

More than 60 teams are expected to take part in the walk, according to Sharon Strike, corporate events director for the Heart Association. Last year's walk raised $54,000; the goal for this year is $75,000, she said.

Teams and individuals can register by phone at 717-263-2870 or online at www.heartwalk.kintera.org/franklinfultonpa.

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