American heart month highlights employee patient story
We usually celebrate February’s American Heart Month promoting heart disease prevention, healthy habits, and education. Taking care of your heart health is a lifestyle we can all embrace. But some people aren’t so lucky.
Megan Ireland is a nurse on 5 Medicine at Hennepin Healthcare. She loves where she works, and the diverse population she cares for. She is currently on medical leave and missing her co-workers terribly.
Megan has struggled with many medical problems since she was a child. Kidney and spine issues lead to congestive heart failure which is due to her postpartum cardiomyopathy (a rare disease of the heart muscle that makes it hard for the heart to pump blood), and chronic kidney problems which caused long-term stress on her heart. In and out of hospitals and after a lifetime of surgeries, she now finds herself on the transplant list, waiting for a new heart. A heart transplant is performed when congestive heart failure or heart injury can’t be treated by any other medical or surgical means. The wait time for a new heart varies, but Megan is young and a healthy future is very possible,. Megan is an advocate for other patients going through these struggles.
Having just celebrated 60 years of kidney transplants at Hennepin Healthcare, we have learned how intertwined kidney health and heart health can be. Kidney problems often lead to heart problems. Megan only has one kidney, which many people can function with as our living donor program has proven. Hennepin Healthcare does not perform heart transplants, but it is not without compassion that we still share Megan’s story.
Megan is a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a nurse at Hennepin Healthcare. She will get worse until she gets better. Costs pile up and her sister has opened a GoFundMe account.
So, as we celebrate American Heart Month this February, let’s remember how important this one organ is. Your heart beats over 100,000 times per day and pumps about 1.5 gallons of blood every minute – over the course of a day, that adds up to over 2,000 gallons. There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body. That’s enough to go around the world twice. Other than the cornea, every cell in the human body gets blood from the heart. Let’s remember to take care of that important, amazing engine in our bodies.
And, let’s also remember those who did everything right but, despite issues beyond our control, aren’t so lucky. Keep Megan and others with similar struggles in your thoughts. You may not know her personally, but she is one of our 7,000 strong.