DALEVILLE – Lisa and Jimmy Garnett want to help raise awareness and funds for the little known Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA), so they’re holding a concert titled “Sing PHrom the Heart” this Friday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at Daleville Baptist Church.
The PHA has become important to the Garnetts in the past few years because of their only child, Branda.
By August 2007 when she was 13 years old, Branda had been sick for most of the summer, Lisa Garnett explained. Finally, when the correct diagnosis was made, they were shocked.
Branda was admitted to the hospital when it was suspected that she had pneumonia. “The next day, a cardiologist performed an echocardiogram after an X-ray had shown that her heart was enlarged. Afterward, he explained that he believed that she had pulmonary hypertension, but wasn’t certain,” Garnett said. “He had never personally seen this disease in a teenager and that we needed to go to the University of Virginia for further evaluation.
“The next two weeks of our lives were a whirlwind,” Garnett continued.
Branda’s heart and lungs were severely damaged by the disease. Based upon the knowledge of the disease and her test results, the doctors were not very encouraging about her prognosis, the mother continued. She said the frequency of pulmonary hypertension in children is 1 in 1 million.
What was a bigger concern was the prognosis. “Even with the most aggressive treatment, they did not expect her to survive for one year,” Garnett explained.
Her treatment includes oxygen therapy, diuretics, blood thinners, and two drugs that dilate the blood vessels of her lungs. One of these drugs is pumped continuously through a catheter directly to her heart, Garnett explained.
“While we have had to learn to manage medications, dressings, and multiple doctors’ appointments, we found that we were not completely alone,” she continued.
Most people with pulmonary hypertension did not know that they had the disease for years, even decades, Garnett said. Because the initial symptoms usually are so “innocent” in appearance, they are often dismissed.
Initially, the most common symptoms are shortness of breath, fatigue and fainting. Patients are often told to reduce stress, exercise more and lose weight.
“What is most unfortunate is that patients’ long-term prognoses improve with treatment. No one can afford not to treat this disease for years,” Garnett noted. “Without treatment, survival rarely exceeds four years.”
That’s why they’re holding the concert Friday night.
“We want to raise awareness of this disease in the hope that others will be spared some of what we have experienced as a result of this diagnosis, Garnett said. “We also want to help PHA. It does more to help patients, caregivers and medical professionals in this battle.”
Jimmy and Lisa are both Lord Botetourt High School graduates (’82 and ’83). Lisa works at Roanoke Cement and Jimmy teaches in Craig County.
“Carilion Clinic has underwritten all of the concert expenses with a generous grant, so all of the money raised with the admission and bake sale will go directly to PHA,” Lisa Garnett said.
The artists who will be performing include singers from Daleville Baptist and Catawba Valley Baptist Churches, David Austin of Buchanan and some of his friends, including Taylor Leonard.
Garnett said a hodge-podge of family and friends from this area and others from Fishersville and possibly Charlotte, N.C. will be helping with the concert.
The Garnetts hope “Sing PHrom the Heart” will become an annual event.
Admission will be $5 per person at the door. A nursery will be available.
Daleville Baptist Church is just off US 220 on Valley Road (Rt. 779) at Orchard Drive.