February was American Heart Health Month, and People Magazine chose St. Petersburg College Communications student Maddie Price to feature in a story about her journey through life with a heart condition.
The Palm Harbor native was born with a congenital heart defect, and has had more than 100 surgeries, including two heart transplants.
Price had her first transplant at age 5, then a second at 15. She is now 19, and told People that now that she’s an adult, she realizes how important it is for her to take her medicine and monitor her condition.
“Until I was a teenager, I thought, ‘Oh, this is normal. You go to the doctor every week, you get labs done, you take a ton of medicine two, three times a day,” Price told the magazine. “It wasn’t until I started going to the doctor on my own that I really started to understand that this is a condition I’ll have forever, and I have to be responsible about it.”
After having her second transplant at 15, she still graduated from high school on time, and is now a freshman at SPC. She works with families who are going through the processes of heart transplants, educating them and offering advice and assistance.
Price, who dreams of working for the American Heart Association, is already active within the organization. She is currently part of their Go Red for Women campaign, which strives to increase awareness by telling the stories of real women affected by cardiovascular issues. She has also created fundraising events for the organization, and she participates in local American Heart Association events.
Price takes around 30 pills per day, which has taken a toll on her body. She is now anticipating a kidney transplant in April 2020. She is forging ahead with her degree, with the support of her instructors.
“I’m taking all of my classes online,” she said. “And my professors have been so easy to work with. If I miss something, they give me an extension.”
In spite of all she has been through, Price remains optimistic.
“Life is precious,” she told People Magazine. “You just take every moment that you get and keep going, even when there’s bumps in the road.”