The contest, which closed to new entries on April 20, 2016, invited participants to submit a simple video of approximately 30 seconds featuring a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) recipient and - if the recipient chose - a friend or loved one discussing what they believe is the best thing about the recipient having received an LVAD.
Each eligible video submission from the contest generated a $100 donation from St. Jude Medical to Mended Hearts. In just two months, the contest reached its goal of raising $25,000 in donations and grants to Mended Hearts to help raise awareness of heart failure and potential therapy options like LVADs, as well as provide support services to heart failure patients.
Millie Henn (Temple, TX) is the Executive Vice President of Mended Hearts' National Board of Directors. Actively involved with Mended Hearts since joining the organization in 2000 following her coronary artery bypass surgery, Millie is also a Mended Hearts accredited visitor, visiting each week with heart patients and their families at her local hospital, Baylor Scott & White. The visiting program has enabled her to meet many LVAD patients and hear their stories of how an LVAD has given them "a second chance at life."
Laura Huber, PT (Aberdeen, SD) has lived with an LVAD since 2007, when she was diagnosed with post-partum cardiomyopathy after the birth of her first baby. Laura received an emergency LVAD implant when her daughter was only 3 weeks old, and she recently celebrated her nine-year LVAD anniversary. Laura says that she's not only alive but "truly living," having been given her "second chance" to spend time and make memories with family and friends. She's also been able to continue her career as a physical therapist in cardiac rehabilitation, both helping and giving hope to the patients she treats.
Susan Joseph, MD (Dallas, TX) is an advanced heart failure cardiologist and the medical director of a hospital LVAD program. Dr. Joseph is passionate about improving patient education and awareness of heart failure options so that more late-stage heart failure patients can experience improved longevity and quality of life.
Deborah Smalis, RN (Tampa, FL) has served as a critical care and cardiothoracic nurse for more than 35 years. Since 2011, she has been a mechanical circulatory support coordinator at Tampa General Hospital. Her role there includes management of ventricular assist devices (VADS), total artificial hearts (TAHs), and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) patients. ECMO is often used as temporary support for the heart and/or lungs. The program at Tampa General is actively involved in supporting patients, families, healthcare teams and the local community in treating and managing heart failure patients.
Bill Van Wagner (Apollo Beach, FL) has lived with an LVAD since May 2015. Bill serves as a board member of the Beat After Beat Foundation, a support group for the VAD community. As his LVAD is indicated as a bridge while Bill awaits heart transplant, he is also the author of the blog, "On A Mission To Transplant."