Stories about: Coronary Artery Program

Lauren’s story: How roller derby saved my life

Lauren, who was born with ALCAPA, holds a sign about what roller derby is teaching her.I wasn’t a particularly athletic child. The second day of soccer practice, in sixth grade, we had to run laps around the soccer field, and 10-year-old me said, “I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack!” My coach disagreed. I quit. That much running was not for me.

Fifteen years later, at age 25, I had not only joined a roller derby league, but had also worked my way up to doing contact drills at practice in just three months. I felt incredible! I felt powerful! I felt unstoppable… until I went into cardiac arrest at a Thursday night practice this past July.

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Back in Kosovo after life-saving surgery, Lis’s heart remains in Boston

Lis, who had Kawasaki disease, poses for his birthday.Like many kids, Lis Spahiu loves wearing his Boston Celtics and New England Patriots t-shirts. His mom, Zana, jokes that sometimes she needs to hide them so he’ll wear something else. But Lis isn’t a typical Boston sports fan. This 5-year-old from Kosovo has grown to love Boston, and its sports teams, after several trips to the Boston Children’s Hospital to receive life-saving care for his heart.

“In Kosovo, the health care system is very poor,” explains Lis’s mom Zana. “So when Lis contracted Kawasaki disease at 5 months old, he was misdiagnosed.”

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