“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: http://www.acc.org/media/patient/chd/chd.htm
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.”
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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.
Feb. 2010 USA Today: Extensive article on his athletic achievements, with brief mention of his heart surgeries.
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: http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/jul/01/golf.features