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Connor, 1996

Connor, born 1996

Connor’s college essay has been shared by his father to inspire hope to those parents of CHD children. Connor's goal is to achieve a Ph.D in Psychiatry.


I see it every day in the mirror. The long scar that runs up my chest reminds me that I was born with a congenital heart defect known as Transposition of the Great Arteries. After multiple surgeries I don’t remember and the inability to play any sort of contact sport, I never gave my surgery much mind. That was until the day I met the man who saved my life.


It was my freshman year in High School and I had just gotten though the midterms. Still trying to make sense of this large building and what I wanted to be. It was a yearly checkup that I have to have to see how my heart is growing. You see my procedure is only 30 years old and there is a lot to learn from the children as they grow into adults. My great arteries are actually stitched in place backwards and would make any technician confused if they didn’t know the history. I had just finished some testing when I learn that my surgeon, who I have never met, happens to be in this office today. My parents jumped at the chance to meet the man again that saved their child’s life fourteen years ago.


Dr. Vincent Parnell comes out of the office to greet us and I’m not exactly sure how I am supposed to react. The only thing I can think of is to ramble off how good I was doing in school and give any accomplishment I can think of. I felt as though I had to justify his saving of my life. I’m sure that just seeing a healthy young man was enough for him, but he seemed humbled enough to listen to me trying to impress. I sense it’s more of an emotional moment for my parents; it must be one of those things I’ll understand later. I’m told that people like me grow up with a strong curiosity about the dynamics of their defect that eventually leads them to medicine.


What I took from that day is a continuing self-evaluation of myself. Here was a man whose purpose it was to repair hearts and bring life back to families. He matters in this world. I was always a very good student but was I a good person? Wanting to be that person has driven me through the rest of my high school years. I know I have made a difference when we make 700 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless every month. I enjoy giving my time over the summers to teach struggling child in Math and to help children in bible camp to find their moral compass. I want people to look to me for when they are trouble. I feel empowered to take on challenging roles I thought I could never do. A new world has been opened to me in music and drama by pushing through those fears. Going to Spain with classmates showed there was a bigger world outside of my town.


I will continue to strive to be that better person in all aspects of my life. I want to be that man that matters to the world. Though my heart was broken, its strength has far exceeded its physical capacity.


Connor’s college essay, shared by this father, Robert – New York

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