Four years ago, the original SaveLaurensHeart FundRager changed my life. It was an amazing night and a tremendous success. Based on my recent trips to the doctor, my friends and family feel that NOW is the time to take action again, and host another SLH FundRager for my medical expenses.
Please SAVE THE DATE: The Save Lauren’s Heart Fundrager 2.0
Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 7pm. At The Angel Orensanz Foundation on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Tickets will go on sale the first week of April.
Here is a complete overview of the event, of Lauren’s illness, and why now is a crucial time in her healing… Please feel free to print this out and pass it along.
About Lauren Del Vecchio and the SaveLaurensHeart FundRager
Lauren Del Vecchio was told that her heart was failing her four years ago at age 25. Her life was instantly changed. That day began a whirlwind of doctors, specialists, tests, hospital stays, and medications. Chest pains and ambulance trips to the hospital became common. Lauren became a prisoner of her own body, scared to leave the house for fear she would collapse on the street or have an arrhythmia and die alone. She could not rest at night; palpitations, night sweats, and nightmares replaced one of her favorite things: sleep! For three months she and her family did all they could to get to the bottom of why this happened. Although Lauren has had health insurance, many of the specialists do not take insurance. On the continued search for answers, in January 2008 Lauren and her family decided to visit Cleveland Clinic, the number one hospital for cardiac care in the U.S. There, she spent twelve days in the hospital for extensive testing and procedures. A pacemaker/defibrillator was implanted in her chest and she must continue to follow-up with the doctors in Cleveland for the rest of her life. The pacemaker/defibrillator can be seen in her chest (the restorative yoga helps her body to acclimate itself to the metal box in her small frame).
The original “SaveLaurensHeart FundRager” held in 2008 helped Lauren and her family to pay her enor- mous medical bills at the time, and it gave her the means to search for alternative treatments that would help her rebuild her body and her heart. For four years now the donations have given Lauren a reason to get out of bed each day and look for a way to get better and take action. Because of the donations she has been able to find a team of doctors and healers that she is working with to keep her heart in the best condition possible. In the course of four years, Lauren has been able to gain weight, build her muscles and strength, address her stomach and pain issues, and find a support system in her healers. Many of which are not covered by insurance.
above: Cleveland Clinic 2008
to the right: Columbia Presb 2011
While she has made progress, Lauren is still in heart failure, with one of her valves severely leaking. Her heart failure doctors at Columbia have been pushing for open heart surgery to try and repair the valve to hopefully preserve her heart for as long as possible until a heart transplant –something they still say is in- evitable. Lauren is reminded of this every single day. With the help of the raised funds, she found an Or- thomolecular doctor out of town (who also does not take insurance) and is currently on an intense routine where she takes over 120 vitamins daily. These vitamins have been responsible for her weight gain and strengthening, and they protect her heart from arrhythmias. Lauren must take these vitamins every single day. Vitamins are not covered by insurance so this costs about $700 monthly, not to mention the $1000 every two months to see the orthomolecular specialist out of state.
As the funds ran out over the past year from the last fundraiser Lauren had to stop doing the things that help her pain diminish and give her energy. Acupuncture regularly, as well as pain management, osteopathy, and restorative yoga are some of the many things she must do to stay in good health. Seeing that Lauren has such a complicated illness, all of these alternative treatments are crucial to maintain- ing the best possible overall health that she can and of course, in achieving the main goal of preserving her own heart for as long as possible. In the next few years Lauren’s pace- maker defibrillator will need to be replaced, a procedure that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars (even with insurance it is still costly). This procedure will take place where it was originally implanted, at the Cleveland Clinic, the best heart hospital in the US (which means more travel expenses).
Lauren’s friends and family believe that now is the time to take action again and throw another fundraiser to help Lauren continue on her healing journey. The event will take place on Thursday May 31st, 2012 at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on the Lower East Side in New York City.
Up until this point Lauren and her family have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatments. They never want money to be an issue when it comes to Lauren’s health and they would like her to continue on her path to healing with the hopes of keeping her heart preserved long enough to push off open heart surgery for a while, and a heart transplant even longer. They want to give Lauren the chance to live her life outside of hospitals and doctor offices.
With each day Lauren and her family continue to be grateful to those around them who show never ending support and love.
Clockwise from the top left: Lauren sick in 2009. Lauren sick in 2010. Lauren in November feeling stronger. Lauren in the summer of 2011, three years after the original FundRager.
Her progress would not have been possible without your support and donations.
Lauren still has a long way to go to a healthy heart and a full recovery.
Background information on Lauren’s illness, Scleroderma.
To provide some background, when she was eighteen Lauren experienced a lot of health issues: muscle weakness, pain, and stomach problems. She was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder called Mixed Connective Tissue Disease overlap Scleroderma. Autoimmune means that your own body’s immune system is working overtime, causing it to attack its own body as if it were the germs or disease it is supposed to fight against. The Mixed Connective Tissue affects her joints and muscles, often leaving her in pain and very fatigued. Scleroderma is known for attacking the body’s organs by depositing scar tissue until they can no longer function properly. Upon receiving this news at such a young age, Lauren immediately made a promise to herself that she would not let this mysterious illness affect her life. She would live it to the fullest, push her limits, love every day –and she did. Lauren graduated New York University in 2004 where she studied journalism and philosophy. Throughout school she always worked two, sometimes three jobs, in addition to being a full-time student, and loved every minute.
For seven years she grew, got new exciting jobs at places like MTV and Creative Artists Agency, bartended and served as a waitress in nightclubs, attended exciting events, and met new people. Despite the occa- sional bad days where it was tough to get out of bed due to extreme muscle fatigue, joint pains, and the many drugs (including immunosuppressant therapies) which made her nauseous and gave her terrible head- aches, Lauren still stayed positive and never allowed the condition to get her down.
Over the spring of 2007 is when things worsened for Lauren. She began spending entire weekends in bed, unable to move. She could not give 100% at her job as a personal concierge, often feeling faint and even- tually couldn’t even climb the subway stairs to make it to work everyday. Eventually she sadly had to stop working because of her limitations. In the fall of 2007 her condition took a turn for the worse: Lauren was informed that her condition spread to her heart which was now extensively scarred, pumping at only 15% capacity (a normal heart pumps at 50 – 65%). She was now classified as a patient with heart failure, di- agnosed with dilated Cardiomyopathy. The doctors tell Lauren that once the heart becomes scarred and stretched out as the Scleroderma had done to her heart, it can never go back. But Lauren believes there is a way to make anything happen, and she continues to believe she will heal her heart with alternative treatments.
Images from the original SaveLaurensHeart FundRager in 2008: