Being born with the congenital heart defect aortic stenosis hasn’t stopped Haley Campbell from achieving her dreams.
It prevented her from playing competitive sports in high school, so she showed her spirit by dancing and cheering. It prevented her from giving birth naturally, so she adopted a son who is the joy of her life. It pulled her into a depression, but she empowered herself with physical fitness and came out on top.
At 7 years old, Haley had surgery to repair a failing heart valve. However, at age 11, the valve began to deteriorate and at age 13, she underwent a second surgery to replace it with an artificial mechanical valve.
As an adult, Haley became a nurse and spent 15 years in the intensive care unit. Here she learned about the cardiac patients she treated. That’s why she knew something was wrong when she had a bad headache that lasted three weeks. An MRI discovered severe intracranial bleeding that was causing a midline shift in the brain.
She traveled to Los Angeles to have brain surgery to remove the clot.
Fortunately, Haley was left with no brain deficiencies, but found herself back in the emergency room a year later.
While working out on a treadmill at the gym, Haley suddenly passed out. She went to get checked out and discovered the valve she received at 13 was now too small for her 38-year-old heart.
At age 39, she had her third open-heart surgery.
This surgery was high-risk because of her two previous operations and her heart was enlarged and very close to her chest wall. Haley made a will and was baptized again with her husband. Fortunately, the surgery was successful.
Unfortunately, Haley became one of the approximately 25 percent of patients who experience cardiac depression. Fed up with her weight, she bought a home workout program. Despite her depression telling her she couldn’t succeed, Haley would ask herself, “What if I did?” to stay motivated. She dropped 40 pounds, developed a love of weight lifting and started living healthier.
Today, she is in the best shape of her life and her 13-year-old son recently started working out with her.
Haley’s advice to women is to put themselves first. Don’t put warning signs on the back burner. She encourages others to have a positive attitude, don’t make excuses and understand that you deserve to be well.