Abigail Findley, a mother who was diagnosed with peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) four and a half years ago, ran a 10K on November 1 to raise funds for other women suffering from PPCM. The United Kingdom mother is motivated to help women in developing countries who suffer from this condition and who may not have the access to quality healthcare to treat and stabilize the condition. PPCM is a rare disorder in which a pregnant woman’s heart becomes weakened and enlarged. It can develop during the last month of pregnancy, or within five months after the baby is born .
During her journey with PPCM, Abigail learned about maternal health challenges in Haiti, including the relatively high incidence of PPCM among Haitian women. Her mentor: Dr. James Fett, who launched the PPCM clinic and associated research at HAS in 1999, and who treated many mothers with this rare form of dilated cardiomyopathy during his tenure as HAS Medical Director from 1984 to 1986 and subsequently as an HAS medical volunteer.
According to Dr. Fett, who communicated with Abigail through an online PPCM forum, the HAS PPCM project over the years has reduced the case fatality rate from over 50 percent to around 10 percent currently, and increased the full recovery rate from less than 5 percent to around 35 percent currently. Dr. Fett and other continue to research the causes of the condition, including possible dietary and genetic factors.
Abigail’s condition is stable with medication, and she has chosen to give back so that other women can receive the life-saving care that helped her regain her health. Abigail chose to fundraise by running a 10K.
“I have always exercised as much as possible, and particularly once I was symptomatically stable following diagnosis,” she said. “Recently, I wanted to set myself a challenge to show how far I had come–running a 10k seemed an obvious choice–partly because I’m not a natural runner so it was more of a challenge!”
Abigail said she chose to raise funds for HAS, persuaded by Dr. Fett. “I feel a real connection with the PPCM mums in Haiti, given my own condition,” she said. World Health Organization. “Chronic Diseases and Health Promotion.” http://www.who.int/chp/en/. Accessed 11/11/15.