When Mindy Beyer entered this world, her parents were told she might not live beyond her third birthday. That was 33 years ago. Take a look at her now — radiant, full of joy, and yes, pregnant!
Mindy was born with several heart defects. When she was a month old she had a temporary procedure to stabilize her condition until she was older and strong enough to have open heart surgery — around the age of three, if she lived that long. Not only did she make it, she didn’t even need the second surgery until she was twelve years old. That’s when she decided that when she grew up she wanted to work in health care.
Mindy stayed true to her word, but just two months shy of graduating from nursing school, her life took another unexpected turn. A routine MRI to simply check the status of her heart revealed she had a tear in her aorta. If it hadn’t been discovered, Mindy says it surely would have killed her. She had open heart surgery — again — and the tear was repaired. “I was very lucky. I stop and think about it sometimes and I’m like, wow. It’s amazing.”
On Tuesday, March 6th, Mindy will share her story at the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women Luncheon. She’ll also be doing healthy heart screenings at a breakout session before lunch is served. She runs a cholesterol screening and cardiac risk reduction program called Take Charge. Fitting, isn’t it, that she is a cardiac nurse? “I’ve been able to use what I’ve learned with my heart condition to help others get through the times that are hard for them and troubling,” she explains. “I think it helps them to see someone on the other side who’s lived through it. I’ve taken every card I’m dealt and tried to make it positive and I feel like I have.”
Mindy agreed to speak at the luncheon because she firmly believes she is alive today not only because of the great care of her doctors, but also because of the technology and research made possible by the American Heart Association. She wants attendees to see her as “living proof” their donations matter.
No doubt she’ll give everyone a good glimpse of her baby belly. After all, this is one of the most exciting times in her life. It’s also one that she does not take for granted. Pregnancy can be risky for a woman with congenital heart defects, and all her life she heard that she would probably never be able to have a baby. For four years she and her husband tried without success to have one with a surrogate.
They were absolutely thrilled when Mindy became pregnant, but from the moment she found out she’s had to be under the watchful eye of both her obstetrician and her cardiologist. As for the baby, new technology and research have made it possible to carefully examine its tiny little heart and to screen for a gene linked to congenital heart disease. Everything looks great Mindy says. “Knock on wood, everything is going really, really well.”
The next hurdle will be the delivery, a process that will be monitored every step of the way. Mindy’s not worried. Her attitude never falters — “You just have to go out there and live life. I think some people forget that and take it for granted sometimes. You have to live it.”
If you would like to be inspired by Mindy in person, you can register online for the Go Red For Women luncheon. But hurry, the deadline is tomorrow, Friday, March 2nd.