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Indianapolis woman shares story living with a congenital heart defect

aha
Posted at 11:33 AM, Feb 21, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-21 11:33:38-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Inside the office of the American Heart Association, Bobbi Finley is telling her story about living with a congenital heart defect.

"Called Tetralogy of Fallot. I had my first open heart surgery at the age of two and actually the surgical procedure that saved my life was developed by the AHA in 1944," said Finley.

Finley says after that, she led a pretty normal, active life.

"I learned from a really young age the value of health and I continued to see a cardiologist every year," said Finley.

Finely's yearly check up always came back positive until 2008 when she was 25.

"They told me my pulmonary valve was leaking to a point to where it needed to be replaced," said Finley.

Finley said her second surgery and a major impact on her.

"I was depressed. I just didn’t know how to get back to the things that made me happy. Exercise always made me happy it was a way I kind of controlled something that I didn’t have control of," said Finley.

Finley got back to her active lifestyle. Four years later she did something she never thought she could and ran a half marathon.

"It represented how far I had come since my second surgery," said Finley.

She continues to prioritize exercise and healthy eating bringing that passion to the American Heart Association as an employee now. She says was drew her to working there is the American Heart Associations focus on health equity. In 2018, the organization created the Office of Health Equity to focus on reducing health disparities and address social determinants of health.

"I think so many people out there, given the opportunity like me, would put their health first but they don’t know how they're going to feed their kids tomorrow or they don't have access to health care," said Finley.