Courageous girl sacks heart disease

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The Buffalo Bills, Greatbatch, Inc. and the American Heart Association are partners with the "Sack Heart Disease" program and have a brief happy-ending story about a young girl named Layla, to share with Bills fans.

At 5 years old, Layla is a courageous little girl who isn't shy about telling her story. She's like any other child—except that she has endured multiple open heart surgeries and lives with congenital heart disease.

Here's her story:
Five months before Layla was born, doctors discovered her ventricles were two different sizes and growing at only half the normal rate. Layla's heart struggled during her delivery. Her heartbeat was decelerating—forcing doctors to perform an emergency c-section. Hours after she was born, an angioplasty revealed Layla's aorta was pinched like an hourglass. Only four days old, the baby girl underwent open heart surgery. The surgery improved her condition, but it wouldn't be her last.

Just a few weeks later, doctors needed to perform a second procedure. They went in through Layla's side to repair the bad part of the aorta, take out what was "rotten" and infuse the ends to shorten the pipeline. After weeks of recovery, the 5-month old was ready to be taken home from the hospital—this time for good.

Today, the 5-year old is enjoying her first year of school. She began Kindergarten in September. She continues to have regular checkups with her doctor each year around her birthday. Thanks to research funded by the American Heart Association, Layla will be celebrating birthdays for many years to come.

It's amazing that only one generation ago, someone born with Layla's condition might not have lived to start Kindergarten. While significant improvements have been made, roughly one in every 125 children is born with congenital heart disease.

The Buffalo Bills, Greatbatch, Inc. and the American Heart Association's "Sack Heart Disease" program is now underway.  For every sack the Buffalo Bills record during each home game of the 2010 season, Greatbatch will donate $400 to the American Heart Association. The program will run through the end of the season.

In addition to Greatbatch's donation, fans will be able to donate online as well. Fans are encouraged to donate and for each donation made to the "Sack Heart Disease" program, they will be entered into a drawing for a Bills-related prize.  To donate, click here.

At the end of the season, a check will be presented to the American Heart Association at Greatbatch's Global Headquarters & Holmes R&D Center by a Buffalo Bills player.  One randomly selected fan that donates to the program will also be invited to participate in the check presentation and meet the Bills player.

"The Bills and Greatbatch share a partnership where we both strongly support the American Heart Association," said Bruce Popko, Bills senior vice president of business development. "Through the "Sack Heart Disease" program, the Bills and Greatbatch have created a unique football-driven heart disease awareness campaign that will help increase donations to the American Heart Association."

Greatbatch, Inc. (NYSE:GB)* provides critical technologies to industries that depend on reliable, long lasting performance through its brands Greatbatch Medical and Electrochem.  Greatbatch Medical develops and manufactures vital technologies used in medical devices for the cardiac rhythm management, neuromodulation, vascular access and orthopedic markets.  Electrochem is a world leader in the design and manufacture of battery and wireless sensing technology solutions for industrial applications.  For additional information on Greatbatch, visit www.greatbatch.com.*

The American Heart Association* is the nation's oldest and largest voluntary health organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Their mission is to build healthier lives by preventing, treating and defeating these diseases – America's No. 1 and No. 3 killers. They fund cutting-edge research, conduct lifesaving public and professional educational programs, and advocate to protect public health. To learn more or join in helping all Americans, call 1-800-AHA-USA1 or visit www.americanheart.org.
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