Avera Medical Minute AHH: Mended Hearts Volunteer Organization

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Heart disease is one of the most common causes of early death in the United States.

And for men, it starts to accelerate around the age of 45.

Two heart disease survivors are using their second chance to give back.

Undergoing a quintuple bypass just two years ago, Trevor Jackson has spent a lot of time at the Avera Heart Hospital. Now, he’s back. Not as a patient, but as a Mended Hearts Volunteer.

“My name’s Trevor with Mended Hearts. We're a volunteer organization here at the hospital. To be part of Mended Hearts, we had to be a patient at one point,” said Trevor.

While not many would choose to come back to a hospital, Trevor did – to help those who are laying where he once was.

“I look at it that God kept me here for a reason and that's kind of how I volunteer now because I figure I gotta tell somebody the story and hopefully it helps them get through the same sort of procedure, or whatever it is,” said Trevor/

Trevor is just one of the many volunteers who wear this red vest as a Mended Heart volunteer.

“Hi, you got a second for a visit? My name is Troy Miller. I’m with a group called Mended Hearts. I'm a heart disease survivor,” said Troy Miller, Mended Heart volunteer.

Troy had a non-ischemic cardiomyopathy which is a weakness of the left ventricle. He had a defibrillator placed to be able to treat the heart rhythm if it went into the rapid rhythm.

“I know when I first got the diagnosis, it's a big burden and you struggle with it for a while. So I just wanted to kind of bring a message of hope to other people that are first diagnosed -- let them know that they're not the only one struggling with it -- kind of bring a face and a story along with it,” said Troy.

“So these patients are like their friends and they're a support group. And many times, patients are afraid to go home because it's like ‘I know while I'm here, I'm okay and there's people here that will take care of me.’ But the Mended Hearts volunteer can go in and say ‘you're going to be just fine.’ And there's always a life-line here. You can call if you've got questions,” said Marilyn Paddock, Avera Heart Hospital Director of Marketing.

“And for me, they took the vein out of my leg and the leg hurt far worse than this up here. So a couple things to watch out for when you get home – do you have a recliner at home? You will want to sleep in that. I was up here actually two years ago but I had bypass surgery. What brought you up here?” asked Trevor.

“I had a valve replacement,” said a patient.

What makes both Trevor and Troy unique is that they were both very young when they discovered they had a heart condition. They hope to be able to relate to those younger heart patients who may be going through something similar.

For more information on the Mended Hearts Volunteer Program, just call 877-AT-AVERA.