Randy Smith of Bloomington, Illinois, has been making donations to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA) for almost two decades in honor of his daughter, Ellen.
Ellen was 13 years old when her primary care doctor heard a heart murmur. She was immediately referred to a cardiologist who diagnosed her with pulmonary hypertension (PH).
“She was originally given one to two years to live, but she beat those odds and spent an additional 17 years with us,” Randy says.
No one in the Smith family had heard of PH, so they began looking for help to understand the disease and learn about available treatment. The family soon found PHA, which became a valuable resource, and they started attending events.
Doctors at a nearby hospital connected Ellen with a clinical trial for a new drug at the time. She was one of the youngest patients to enroll in the study.
Ellen made her way through school, graduated with a nursing degree and became a registered nurse.
She was very aware of her disease and her symptoms, Randy says. When she went into a doctor’s office or emergency room where staff didn’t know about PH, she walked them through it. Her specialist always asked for her opinion, Randy adds.
The disease brought Ellen and Randy closer together. “We shared a very close bond until she passed in 2015,” he says. “Ellen was surrounded by family, friends and her husband, who all took care of her and loved her.”
Randy continues to donate to PHA in Ellen’s memory because he says it brings him hope. “I know that my annual gift to PHA helps patients and helps to find a cure. It gives hope — and hope is what keeps us all going.”
PHA’s work is made possible through support from annual donors like Randy. Join him today in providing hope for PH patients and caregivers by making a gift to support PHA’s mission. Click here to donate.