I want to fulfil my purpose - Young woman battles on despite heart condition

August 23, 2018
Abi-Gaye Smythe who has had multiple heart surgeries.
Abi-Gaye Smythe who has had multiple heart surgeries.
Abi-Gaye Smythe who has had multiple heart surgeries .


From an early age, Abi-Gaye Smythe dreamed of becoming a dancer. However, this dream was shattered when she was diagnosed with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD).

It is a rare condition that affects the right side of the heart. According to Smythe, her right valve is leaking and her heart is too big.

As such, she is unable to do activities that require much movement.

Smythe told The STAR that she was an active person when she was younger. But she was experiencing chest pain.

"The first test I did was a treadmill stress test, and right after the doctor told me that I may have the same condition that killed my mom (in 2002). From early 2011 to 2012, I had to be at the hospital every week," she said.

School was not the same for Smythe, and she was placed on academic probation at the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) due to low grades.

She said that she had to sit out almost four semesters due to ill health. Smythe has had to do multiple surgeries.




Her first was in 2012, where an Implantable Cardioveter Defibrillator (ICD) was placed in her heart to help regulate it.

"The day after I did my first surgery, my lungs collapsed, and I had to do another surgery to flush my body of the excess water. Two weeks after that, I got shocked by the device and it was so painful. It felt like a horse was kicking me in the chest," she said.

She had to do another surgery in October 2012 because her body was rejecting the device.

"It was tearing my skin to come out. In March 2013, I got shocked again by the device. After the shocks, I had to be hospitalised because the pains were so intense," she said. "After that in 2015, the battery got loose and migrated to my breast. In June 2018, they had to lift it out of my breast because it was causing swelling. Two weeks after, I left a sharp pain and they realised that part of the mesh that was used to wrap the battery to keep it in place was tearing away my skin. So I had to do surgery to fix it."

Through it all, Smythe said she has remained motivated because of family support and "I get my strength from fear because I don't want to die young and not fulfil my purpose".

She admitted she contemplated suicide, but said she believed that God would not give her more than she could bear.

Through family support and determination, Smythe completed her studies. She now works at cable news station, JNN. But she's not cured. If she gets too excited, the ICD can still act up.

Since speaking about her hardship on social media, she said people have responded, telling her about their issues.

She said that she feels really blessed that she is able to reach out to people.

"You have to find the purpose in your pain and no matter how broken and damaged you are, there is something in you that will be a ray of hope to others," she said.

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