Rocky and Lyla Valentine – Father/Daughter Survivorship
Rocky and Lyla Valentine are heart disease survivors from Rogersville, Missouri. Both are featured survivors for #NoMOHeartDisease, the American Heart Association’s year-long initiative created to increase awareness and reduce the prevalence of heart disease in Missouri.
Growing up near a small town in Southwest Missouri, Rocky was known for his energy and athleticism. After what was initially thought to be a case of the flu when he was in seventh grade, his condition worsened and doctors discovered that his heart was enlarged. The diagnosis was dilated cardiomyopathy. When medication failed to improve his heart function, Rocky was placed on the transplant list. Six months later, he received his new heart. After that, his recovery was rapid and he was soon cleared to return to his normal activities.
Fast forward 12 years and Rocky is now married to Breanna and they have a baby daughter, Lyla. Through their careers as an educator and a nurse, the Valentines were committed to helping others, and were looking forward to growing their family.
When Lyla began to sit up at six months old and making grunting noises, it became apparent to Breanna that something was wrong. However, her parents were shocked to learn that Lyla’s heart was enlarged and she was in heart failure. Within weeks, the decline in her health mirrored Rocky’s experiences 12 years earlier and she was placed on the transplant list. At nearly 10 months of age, she received her new heart.
Fast forward another 6 years and the Valentine family celebrates two full recoveries! Both Rocky and Lyla are enjoying life to the fullest. Rocky is now a school superintendent and Lyla is an active 7-year-old girl who loves spending time with her sister, Lily.
Significant advancements were made in the 12 years between Rocky’s transplantation and Lyla’s. Imagine what could be possible a decade from now because of ongoing research!
This dynamic father-daughter duo are February’s featured survivors for #NoMOHeartDisease, the American Heart Association’s year-long initiative created to increase awareness and reduce the prevalence of heart disease in Missouri. The initiative works to educate Missourians on changes they can make to prevent heart disease, while unifying heart disease survivors. Survivor stories like the Valentines’ can be found at heart.org/nomoheartdisease and on the American Heart Association’s Missouri Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.