If you were to meet Sabrina Chambers for the first time, you would meet a happy teen who enjoys spending time with her friends and family. You would never know that she is living with Long QT syndrome, a rare heart defect.
Long QT syndrome, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a heart rhythm disorder that can potentially cause fast, chaotic heartbeats. These rapid heartbeats may trigger a sudden fainting spell or seizure. In some cases, your heart may beat erratically for so long that it can cause sudden death.
Sabrina, who was born in Utah, recalls being six years old and jumping on her neighbor’s trampoline with the neighborhood kids when she collapsed. “My friends ran and got my dad,” Sabrina said. “They told me I was out for 8-10 minutes. I woke up in the Ambulance.”
There were no warning signs before that day, and, in most cases, a person wouldn’t know they even had Long QT syndrome unless doctors had tested for it.
This past year, Sabrina was chosen to participate in the Sweetheart program for the American Heart Association Heart Ball in Hot Springs. The Sweethearts are a group of high school girls who make a commitment to learn about cardiovascular disease and help raise money and awareness within the community on behalf of the American Heart Association.
Sabrina spent 70 hours at the National Park Medical Center, and 100 volunteer hours total helping to file paper work in the emergency room, filling out wristbands and even learned CPR. She held bake sales, helped sell tickets to the Heart Ball, collected auction items for the Heart Ball silent auction, and went door-to-door asking businesses to donate to the non-profit organization.
More than $21,000 later, her hard work paid off and she was awarded top honors during the Heart Ball held earlier this year. Sabrina explained that she didn’t apply for the Sweetheart program to win an award but rather to help teach others about heart disease and living a heart healthy lifestyle. “I would really like to see a pediatric cardiologist come to the Hot Springs area,” she added.
Sabrina has volunteered with other local organizations as well. She and her family work closely with Jackson House, volunteer through church programs and more. She plans to continue volunteering however she can and offers this advice to her peers: “Don’t be afraid to try to make a difference—step up to the plate and swing. Start small and work your way up.”
Sabrina is now 16 years old and hopes to continue telling her story to inspire others to live a heart healthy lifestyle and someday hopes to help kids with heart defects similar to hers.
The mission of the American Heart Association is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Each year they host multiple events in central Arkansas and surrounding areas to bring awareness and education about key issues and to raise support for invaluable heart disease and stroke research. Join in the fight against heart disease and stroke by attending one of the events or volunteering, including joining You’re the Cure to lend your voice to advocacy efforts, distributing materials at a health fair, finding a CPR Class, or contributing to one of their online communities. For more information visit www.heart.org.
Photo by Brian Chilson