Abi-Gaye Smythe honours mom with I Have A Heart Foundation
Having lost her mother to heart disease, personally experiencing the severities of dealing with this disease, and seeing others suffer through the ordeals of a failing heart, Abi-Gaye Smythe, from her very first surgery, made an oath to help all the persons she could, live a life that is as normal as it can possibly be.
Eight years ago, Smythe began the I Have A Heart Foundation, which has, to date, seen scores of persons receiving heart surgeries, and witnessing the beauty of life without the restrictions of the incapacitating diseases.
“In 2012, during my hospital stay for my first heart surgery, having gone through physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial challenges, and meeting others in clinic suffering like me, I knew I had to do something. I knew that I wanted to help. I have a big heart – my heart is literally big too (laughs) as it is slightly enlarged, for helping others.”
She said that the main objective of the foundation is to raise awareness of heart disease and provide support for those living with the disease.
FREE HEART SURGERY
“In late 2018, we partnered with the New York-based Organization for International Development, and we sponsor indigent patients in receiving free heart surgery. In January 2019, 10 indigent patients received surgeries and this January, 13 patients were done. We had our second annual blood drive, ‘Blood Drive: Save A Heart’, which was done through an established new partnership with the National Blood Transfusion Service. The blood drive assists the patient in their heart surgeries and help build and replenish the blood bank’s general supply.”
Smythe added that her foundation has also partnered with All 4 JA Foundation – which focuses on youth, community, and sustainability, and target those with heart disease and Jamaica Moves.
With plans to host annual fundraisers to offset expenses incurred by those who suffer from heart diseases, Smythe said that she is happy that she can help others and honour her mother while doing so.
“The foundation does honour my mother because she, too, had heart disease, which, unfortunately, killed her when she was only 39 years old – and that number stands out to me. I am fighting every day to live beyond that age with my heart disease; and I am fighting to help others with heart disease live beyond that age as well. I also know she would have wanted me to do this and I know she would be helping others, too.”
She added, “In the next few years, I see the foundation forming more partnerships, and helping more people and becoming a wholesome system of support for people with heart disease – socially and psychologically – through a support group and financially through a fund we hope to start.”