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'I wouldn't change a thing': Woman born with CHD proud of her scars

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Posted at 5:05 AM, Feb 21, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defects in the United States.

CHD impacts nearly 40,000 babies a year.

Heart issues don’t just impact a certain age group, in fact Tracy Bruner’s story starts here at riley hospital for children. She’s since live a fairly normal life except for a health scare as an adult.

“I was born with two congenital heart defects,” Bruner said.

Bruner’s life started out at Riley Hospital for Children.

She had a few open-heart surgeries before her third birthday.

“I really didn’t have any health issues growing up,” Bruner said.

That changed in 2017 when Bruner was 44 years old.

“I knew something was wrong. I didn’t feel right,” Bruner said.

She told me, a few days before thanksgiving she felt weak and dizzy. Her husband ready to take her to the ER.

“He picked me up and was ready to take me to the Emergency Room and as quickly as the symptoms came on, they were gone,” Bruner said.

A few days later she says she woke up sick, couldn’t form sentences and she was choking when she tried to eat or drink.

“They said we think she just has the flu and luckily my husband spoke up and said she can’t even swallow water,” Bruner said.

“The doctor looked at me and said ‘do you have a picture of her?’ and he could tell this side of my face was starting to droop and they did a cat scan and sure enough I had not only had a stroke that day but there were strokes before,” Bruner said.

After the strokes and more testing, they learned she needed a pacemaker and will likely need a heart transplant in the future.

Her message today to anyone listening is this.

“Make sure that you’re paying attention to your body because looking back on it I was like ‘oh why didn’t I see that?’ Bruner said.

The acronym F.A.S.T is used to remember stroke symptoms. Face, arms, speech and time.

And even after the scares, surgeries and hospital stays, “I wouldn’t change a thing because it has made me who I am,” Bruner said.

Bruner and her family walk in the annual heart walk to raise money for research.

“Thank you so much for giving money. Because from the bottom of my fixed heart, to the bottom of her fixed heart these funds goo to fix things and make things better,” Bruner said.

To learn more about the warning signs of a stroke and what do click here.