Maddie Ramon had three open-heart surgeries before she was 2. (Photo courtesy of the Ramon family) Madeline “Maddie” Ramon is used to being asked about the scars that can often be seen poking out the top of her shirt. “When I was younger, I had a heart problem and I had heart surgery,” she tells…

Frankie Saldivar was born with three holes in his heart. (Photo courtesy of Maria Saldivar) After months of bed rest, then an emergency delivery six weeks early, Maria and Francisco Saldivar were relieved and elated when they saw their baby boy. Soon, their fears returned. Doctors discovered that Francisco “Frankie” Saldivar Jr. was born with…

Mark Kincaid survived a stroke at age 42. (Photo courtesy of Tonya Kincaid) Mark Kincaid greeted spectators coming to the high school football game as he collected donations for his son’s baseball team. His daughter, a cheerleader, was on the field while his wife and one of their three sons watched the game. As a…

Dance enthusiast and stroke survivor Sandi Thomas. (Photo courtesy of Sandi Thomas) As a teenager, Sandi Thomas appeared for several years on “Dance Connection,” a popular television show in Washington, D.C. For decades, she continued busting a move for the sheer joy of it. “I loved dancing around the house and that sort of thing,”…

Siblings Abigail and Colby Harris were both born with the same rare heart defect. (Photo courtesy of Stephanie Harris) Stephanie Harris was six months pregnant and in the hospital with excruciating pain. But it wasn’t the baby, it was kidney stones. However, when doctors checked on her unborn daughter, an ultrasound revealed a problem: a…

Singer Chelsea Keenan had three strokes before turning 24. (Photo courtesy of Chelsea Keenan) Chelsea Keenan began singing in church when she was 7, and it was clear from the beginning she had a gift. Indeed, shortly after her family relocated to California when she was 14, she signed with an independent record label and…

Peripartum cardiomyopathy survivor Jessica Grib with her family. From left: Jessica, daughter Amelia, son Noah and husband Kevin. (Photo by Heather Wellmeier Photography) Jessica Grib noticed being a lot more tired with her second pregnancy. She felt winded easily and couldn’t catch her breath when lying down. Near her delivery date, she started having issues…

Heart disease survivor Dona Koster with her husband, Tom. (Photo courtesy of Dona Koster) In the late 1990s, when she was in her 40s, Dona Koster’s doctor noticed some irregularities with her heart and referred her to a cardiologist. The specialist’s assessment: She had the heart of an 80-year-old. Koster could hardly believe it. Although…

Cathy Brophy survived a hemorrhagic stroke and ischemic stroke that occurred at the same time. (Photo by Deborah Young Photography) Cathy Brophy went into the guest room to enjoy her guilty pleasure – the reality series “Below Deck.” She fell asleep, only to eventually wake up, turn off the television and return to sleep. Around…

Chad Lorenz survived heart valve surgery and a heart attack. (Photo courtesy of Chad Lorenz) At 13, Chad Lorenz’s life revolved around sports. There was flag football in the fall, basketball and ice hockey in the winter, and track and field in the spring. During basketball practice, he found himself short of breath and struggling…