BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Each month, “WBZ Cares” highlights a worthy non-profit organization and tells the story of what that organization does for the community. This month WBZ is profiling the American Heart Association which is dedicated to lowering the risk for the number one killer, heart disease. With its research, survivor services, public policy work, and community outreach, the national organization has a strong presence here in Massachusetts.
WBZ Cares features the American Heart Association and the work the organization does on a local level.
Executive Director of the Boston market Jay Blackwell, “We are a big national research organization. That is the cornerstone of all that we do, but then that research determines what we do in each key community, so about 100 major metros like Boston. We do health analysis in conjunction with the Department of Health, State Department, the Mayor's Office, what's on his agenda. The Chamber of Commerce, what is influencing economics as it relates to health”.
Seventy-five cents of every dollar raised locally stays local but in addition the organization sends a lot of research money to Boston.
“We are fortunate to be living in an amazing technology center, medical center, innovative center. We have over $37 million invested in research locally in Boston. This past year we raised just over $3.8 million, so every dollar you invest with us comes back multiple times to the city,” said Blackwell.
For Diane Pickles of Haverhill, that research work is critically important.
“My son’s life literally depends on it,” Pickles outlined.
Her son was born with a complex heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
“I was about 4½ months pregnant. We were told that he, in essence, had half a heart. We were told that the odds of him surviving at all, were very, very slim. So he’s now 24 years old. He’s a miracle and he's among the oldest survivors for hypoplastic left heart syndrome,” Pickles stated.
Over the years her son’s had several operations, including 3 open heart surgeries, the first at just 3 days old.
“The survival outcome statistics are not very encouraging, so we rely on research and know that that’s our best hope, that there will be discoveries today that weren’t happening yesterday, or last month, or last year,” Pickles concluded.
WBZ NewsRadio1030's Shari Small Reports