Sharp employees give back to their communities every day, in large and small ways. Trisha Khaleghi, senior vice president and CEO of Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital and Sharp McDonald Center, has been recognized by the American Heart Association for her volunteerism and her passion for caring for those with heart disease.
In honor of the American Heart Association’s annual San Diego Heart & Stroke Walk to be held virtually on Sept. 19, Khaleghi reflects on why heart disease and the American Heart Association (AHA) are so near and dear to her own heart.
Most people volunteer for organizations that have special meaning to them. What is it about the American Heart Association that spoke to you?
I am passionate about the American Heart Association. Not only have I been a volunteer with the AHA for more than 20 years, but I am also on the Go Red for Women Executive Leadership Team. The AHA does so much for communities to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. They fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide critical tools to save and improve lives.
Personally, I am connected and grateful to the AHA because at just 7 days old, my son, Blake, had open-heart surgery. As you can imagine, that was a very scary and traumatic time in our lives. Blake will be turning 20 years old this month and I am constantly in awe of what a strong, resilient and incredible young man he has become.
Can you share more about Blake’s diagnosis at birth — was it a form of congenital heart disease?
Blake was 1 in roughly 3,300 children each year who are born with a specific congenital heart defect known as dextro-transposition of the great arteries, or d-TGA. Seven days after Blake was delivered, he had open-heart surgery because his pulmonary artery and aorta were switched in position. Unfortunately, the surgery was more extensive than anticipated and Blake spent several weeks on a heart-lung bypass machine. It took consistent monitoring of his condition and health until he was able to leave the hospital. I’ll never forget that special day I was able to bring him home.
What words of comfort or advice do you have for other parents who may be dealing with a sensitive health concern like you and Blake experienced?
It is definitely a roller-coaster ride, but take it one day at a time. Believe in your caregivers and don’t give up hope.
How is Blake doing now?
We are fortunate that Blake leads a normal, typical college student’s life. He has played soccer — albeit mindful of his cardiac condition — for more than 17 years. He has overcome physical, mental and emotional issues that he’s had pertaining to his heart, and shown his resiliency by overcoming these obstacles through perseverance. When you ask him, he says he had two choices: to feel sorry for himself for this serious physical condition or he could fight through this condition that he was born with and prevail. He has chosen the latter.
Blake has cardiac evaluations every six months and, as an athlete, he is mindful of and listens to his body if he feels he might be overstraining his heart. As most mothers would say about their own child, I’m just so proud of him. He has a magnetic personality that makes him so special to me, our family and all who know him. He adds so much to my life. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him including finishing college at Chapman University.
Sharp is a proud sponsor of the American Heart Association’s virtual 2020 San Diego Heart & Stroke Walk on Saturday, Sept. 19. Register online to join as an individual or join a team. Gather your family together and join us for the walk in your own neighborhood all while supporting a great cause.
For the news media: To talk with Trisha Khaleghi about her work with the American Heart Association for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at email@example.com.