Athletes with congenital heart defects
California Heart Connection
A support and information network for those with congenital heart defects

Beau Casson – Australian Cricket Player
Born with Tetralogy of Fallot, underwent 2 heart surgeries as a child

Ramie Mohlman - wrestler
“Ramie Mohlman's two matches in the Olympic wrestling trials didn't last long, but he says he accomplished something simply by making it here at age 42 after not wrestling for about two decades and undergoing open heart surgery…In 1989, he says, doctors repaired his heart with a metal aortic valve.”  Read more at:

Nwankwo Kanu -  Nigerian Soccer Player – Gold Medalist
Diagnosed with a leaky valve, he underwent open heart surgery, returned to soccer, and started a heart foundation:   
“Nigerian soccer star Nwankwo Kanu, 22, was a shining star in the world’s most-watched sport. After leading his nation’s team to a surprise gold medal triumph against Argentina at the Atlanta Olympics and then joining a professional team, Kanu was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in August 1996…”  Read the rest of the article at:

According to the website, this foundation was created “to help underprevileged African children and young adults, living with different heart ailments in Nigeria and other African countries respectively, obtain the cardiac surgical operations needed.”

Jennifer Phillips - college basketball player
Had surgery for an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) - back playing 3 months after surgery
1997 -
2000 -
2001 -

Jessy Vega  - High School soccer player
It all started with a routine sports physical. It ended with Vega going under the knife on Dec. 20, 2007 to repair, what is called in medical terms, an "anomalous origin of the coronary artery."

Copyright  2002-2019 California Heart Connection.  All rights reserved.
Please see below some inspiring stories of real athletes with congenital heart defects who have shown true determination to participate in their sport, despite undergoing heart surgery.  Please note that some of these athletes have continued to compete against their doctors wishes, and that each patient is very different.  Please talk with your (or your child's) cardiologist for specific information on appropriate physical activities and participation in sports.    
Shaun White – 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist, Snow Boarding
Diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF) , underwent 2 open heart surgeries.
Lauren Cheney – Soccer player, USA Olympic Team
“Lauren Cheney had open-heart surgery when she was three years old to correct an atrial septal defect, a congenital heart defect characterized by a hole in the upper chamber of the heart…”

Aaron Boone of the Houston Astros will have open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve.
2009 -
Born with a single ventricle, MacKinzie Kline has become a well-known amateur golfer.  She is also using her story to help raise $2 million dollars for research for congenital heart defects.

“Within 24 hours the Klines discovered that Mac, as she is known, had been born with a rare congenital heart defect referred to by doctors as 'functional single ventricle'. Essentially, she was missing one of the four chambers of the heart, and the blood vessels were reversed, so that there was no pump to take oxygen to her lungs….”  Read the entire article at:,8659,21829024-23213,00.html

Current news and accomplishments:
MacKinzie Kline – 

Teen golfer, played on the LPGA Tour