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February 10, 2010 - Cindy Votruba
I changed my status on my Facebook page to read that I am a survivor of a congenital heart defect and to celebrate CHD Awareness week with me for Feb. 8-14. Usually around this time, I’ll reflect on how I managed to get through what I thought was the worst news of my life; that I needed open heart surgery.
Since then, I’ve kept up with the Adults With CHD message board. I’ve been to a couple of ACHA (Adults With Congenital Heart Disease/Defects Association) national conferences. I’ve learned about different things, heard stories from others who have had all kinds of conditions from tetraology of the fallot to tricuspid atresia. And these people are still going, still advocating, and still living life to the fullest.
ACHA recently lost one of those advocates, and not because of his heart condition. Jim Wong, who lived in California, had a doctorate in chemistry, had served as president of the ACHA board and was the main moderator of the message board before he had to step back. He’d also been involved with other organizations. Although he had pulled through heart surgeries related to his TOF, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which claimed his life this past weekend. He would moderate the message board and make postings with his quiet wit and wisdom.
But the spirit of Jim will live on through ACHA with those who have learned from him and are also taking after him as an advocate for people who live with a CHD every day.
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