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26 donations

This fundraiser ended on 01/15/13

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The family and friends of Kristina Diaz are uniting to raise money and support for her Heart Condition. Please help show your support!

Hi, my name is Krissy and I'm 26 years old. When I was just 3 months old I was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot. I've had to deal with numerous surgeries, procedures, tests, doctor appointments and hospital visits over these past twenty-five years because of this Congenital Heart Defect.

Upon diagnosis at 3 months I had to undergo Bypass Surgery because one of my arteries was very constricted, therefore, I was not getting enough oxygen. At the age of 4, I had undergone my first open-heart surgery, where they repaired the hole that was between the bottom chambers of my heart with a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) patch; as well as fixed my pulmonary artery.

Growing up, I couldn't participate in anything like a normal girl with my heart being too weak to handle that type of any sports or activities like cheerleading, dance, or volleyball. At times it was definitely frustrating and disappointing, but I tried my hardest to make the best of what I was able to do. Besides that things were going pretty well, just dealing with some breathing issues and chest pains. As I got into my older teens though things started to progressively get worse, and by the time I reached 19 my heart began having a lot more issues.

In 2007, at the age of 20, my body became extremely weak and it was harder for me to breathe, especially lying down in bed. I would sleep anywhere from 12 to at times 20 hours a day. I always felt so exhausted and some days didn’t have the energy to eat, which resulted in losing roughly 20 pounds. I was transferred from the Seattle Children's Hospital to the Adult Congenital Clinic at the University Of Washington Hospital, where I was told that my Pulmonary Valve was leaking severely and was regurgitating blood back into the same chamber. For those reasons my doctors decided that I was going to need open-heart surgery to replace the valve, and if I didn't I wouldn't live to see my 21st birthday. Hearing this terrified me, in all aspects of the situation, but I mustered up the courage to go through the surgery. On August 15th 2007 they replaced my Pulmonary Valve with a porcine one, and also shaved off excess muscle from my heart. This was because my heart had been working so hard to make up for the problems that the surrounding muscle grew bigger than normal, which in turn caused the heart to have to work even harder. I woke up from surgery feeling like I had been hit by a semi-truck, but it astonished me to finally be able to breathe. I never knew that this was how it felt to breathe. It was so easy, effortless, fulfilling, and mostly reassuring. Slowly I began to get more energy and felt better all around.

Unfortunately this only lasted a few years. In 2009, when I was 23, I ended up contracting the bacterial infection called Endocarditis, which for heart patients is extremely dangerous and can rapidly become fatal. I was put on IV meds through a PICC line for 6 weeks. My Aortic Valve was already having problems and the toll of all the stress on my body did not help things. After the infection was cleared my body never felt the same. I continued to have constant fevers, muscles aches, swollen and painful joints, and at times feel incredibly weak and ill. My immune system has just been through so much, so even now I still have to be careful of the type of the environment that I'm around, and try to keep myself as healthy as possible.

Early in 2012 it was decided that I would need open heart surgery again, this time to replace my Aortic Valve. I always knew that I was going to need more surgeries, but it was still hard to handle. Even though I was still very scared and nervous for surgery I felt 150% comfortable leaving my life in my surgeon’s hands. My valve was replaced on August 14th 2012, almost 5 years to the day from my previous surgery, this time with a mechanical valve. Since it is mechanical I will need to be on blood thinners for the rest of my life, but this way I also won’t need to worry about getting it replaced for at least another 15-20 years.

My surgeons were extremely happy with how well the surgery went. I was taken into the ICU for post-op and had the breathing tube removed. When I opened my eyes my mom squeezed my hand and said hello to me. It wasn’t more than 30 seconds after I said hi back that my heart went into an arrhythmia and I coded. The nurse literally jumped on top of me and started CPR. They called a code blue and within seconds there were at least 15 people in the room. They reinserted the breathing tube and used the electric paddles to try and shock my heart back into normal rhythm. After using the paddles and CPR for 45 minutes, the head cardiac doctor decided to open my chest back up. They turned my ICU room into a makeshift operating room and massaged my heart back into normal rhythm. I was put on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenator (ECMO) -a device to help oxygenate the patient's blood outside the body with returning the blood to the patient's circulatory system so that the heart doesn’t have to do it and has time to rest- and am the first patient to have that procedure done at the UW Hospital. My chest remained open for the next 4 days, and I was kept under heavy sedation for 7 days. After I was woken up on August 20th they decided to place a defibrillator inside my chest. In the event that my heart goes into arrhythmia again the defibrillator will attempt to shock it back into a normal rhythm. I was in the hospital for a total of 16 days. I have since returned home and am still recovering.

The cost for my hospital bills, doctor appointments, and everything has skyrocketed beyond my belief, and continues to. I currently do not have any insurance because I was dropped on my 26th birthday this past September from my parents insurance. I will continue to have various expenses such as medications, going to see my doctors every few weeks, and months to check up on things from this particular surgery. However my defect is something that is lifelong. I will always need to see my cardiologist at the very least every 6 months. I will need to get ultrasounds, CT’s, blood draws every month, and be on medications. I will also need to get surgeries throughout my life as well to re-replace valves, and take care of other things that can potentially go wrong. Being that my pulmonary valve is tissue and not mechanical it will need to be re-replaced in another 5 years or so, and will continue to need to be replaced all my life. Emotionally, physically and financially this has been a very trying time for my family and I. The money donated will go to help pay medical bills and expenses. I want to conclude with my great appreciation for taking the time to read this. Also I am very thankful as well for all support, prayers, and well wishes I have received and continue to receive from my family, friends, and strangers. I could never express how grateful I am. If you could pass along my story, as well as my Facebook page to spread the word it would be incredibly helpful.

Thank you,

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