Heart disease survivor talks about hole in his heart

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The 2009 American Heart Association Heart Walk is taking place on Saturday at 10 a.m. in Innsbrook. Before that, we preview a local man who at a young age was diagnosed with a serious heart condition: a huge hole in his heart.

At 15, Peter Kennedy started getting the symptoms: numbness, headaches. But he didn't know what was wrong. Then at just 27, with three kids and a wife, he realized he had a serious heart condition.

It's moments with his family that Peter cherishes the most, after getting news he calls relieving. "There was a light at the end of the tunnel. I knew what was wrong with me, now I finally knew how it had to be fixed."

You see, for about 12 years, Peter had no idea what was wrong with him.

"I had numbness in my hands, my tongue. The right side of my body would go numb," he adds. "I was laying in the hospital room bed, not able to speak. Not able to move."

His two children at the time and wife by his side.

NBC asked, "What was it like watching your family as you laid in that bed?"

"I felt helpless. My wife watching me. I was near deaths door and there was nothing we could do," Peter answered.

Then he participated in cardiovascular research. A chance for Peter to learn about holes in the heart, when he learned his heart had a hole, a big one.

It took four to five months to recover, but he did. That, thanks to people who walked and donated to the American Heart Association.

Last year alone, you helped donated more than $106 million.

"If it wasn't for research funded through organizations like the American heart association, my diagnosis wouldn't have happened," Peter said.

Peters' second chance at life, to enjoy time with loved ones and to support others like they supported him.

Also, he'll be hitting the street on Saturday for cause that saved his life.

"I can't imagine a life where I couldn't hold them. To know I have been given a gift through the charity of others, I can't express how much that means," Peter said.

Peter and his wife now have a fourth addition to their family, a five-week-old baby. So, now he has four children.

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