When the holidays near, we are reminded to be grateful during this giving season. It is the season of giving gifts, of giving time, of giving good will - and most importantly, of giving thanks.

At age 38, I became a sudden cardiac death survivor. When my heart stopped, my husband, Andy, began CPR on me. A skill he had learned in school, re-learned in the military and had just re-trained in through work the week prior.

My sudden cardiac arrest led me to a long hospital stay, an implantable cardioverter defibrillator inserted in my chest and the journey to learn how to talk, walk and complete every-day tasks again. Because of this experience, I have advocated to see policy changes that give children the ability to learn CPR in schools enabling them to save lives.

Today I am unbelievably happy and healthy and am living grateful because of research and education. Most importantly, I am appreciative and thankful for the advancements in the treatment of heart disease and stroke because of research.

As we move forward to a day where heart disease and stroke are no more, please consider supporting the American Heart Association by volunteering, participating at an event or making a donation. Together we can love and care for our hearts and the hearts of others one beat at a time.

Michelle Johnston


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