ICHF ambassadors help support and grow the mission of the organization, which is to bring together skills, knowledge and technology to cure and care for children with congenital heart disease in developing nations around the world.
Alicia is a CHD patient herself
Pediatric cardiothoracic surgery physician assistant Alicia Nicole Wilmoth is one of those rare and special ambassadors who is both a patient and a provider for ICHF.
The 35-year-old hailing from Akron and now residing in Cincinnati, Ohio, was diagnosed with unbalanced atrioventricular canal, or left-sided dominance, heterotaxy and pulmonary atresia, which is a congenital heart disease that prevents the pulmonary valve from properly forming.
She’s had to receive several forms of medical treatment for these conditions, including a Blalock-Taussig shunt, a Glenn shunt, and a Fontan procedure, and multiple heart catheterizations for right pulmonary artery stent placement and coiling.
Even with diseases like this that can slow you down in life, Alicia has always been determined to live life to the fullest extent and not let her heart conditions knock her down.
“I think as someone with CHD, you face mortality head on, and it can either break you or strengthen you,” she said. “I try to face it with a positive attitude and with the realization that I, like everyone else, am the only one who holds the key to my happiness.”
A passion for raising CHD awareness
Alicia offers her opinion on the most important thing that people should understand about CHD. It worries her that people don’t fully understand the meaning of congenital, a battle that takes place from life to death.
“CHD is not something that can be fixed, but rather, it is a life-long issue that we face. It is more prevalent than any other pediatric disease,” she said. “When people are shocked to hear ‘congenital heart disease’ and cry as they do for other serious illnesses, we’ll know we’ve made a difference then.”
In an era where there are more adults with CHD than children, ICHF is proud to have the support of ambassadors like Alicia. If you would like to become an ambassador, contact the team at ICHF to find out how. ICHF won’t give up the fight until the need for ICHF is obsolete.