By Dana Jean Costantino
For the last several years I have had the great pleasure of being on the Junior Board of a New York based non-profit called Harboring Hearts. They pride themselves on providing the best care and help for heart patients and their families. As many of us celebrate coming out of the pandemic, I felt the pull now more than ever to focus on the heart. Not just for the physical aspects of what we think of when we think of the organ, the heart, but also for the mental and emotional aspects that come with the word, “heart”. Our hearts and the hearts of others are so important. This lovely interview is with Nikkya Hargrove, one of the key members of the Harboring Hearts staff. Here she helps us understand what Harboring Hearts is all about and the best ways to get involved. We also have the pleasure of learning about a heart transplant success story. Thank you for reading on and please get involved if you can. Healthy hearts lead to a healthy community and we could all use community, now and forever. Be well NYC!
Can you share the origins of the organization and how many years it’s been in existence as well as any plans for the future?
Harboring Hearts was founded in 2009 by Michelle Javian and Yuki Kotani. Their fathers were awaiting heart transplants at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital when they met. We continue to support and celebrate the heart journeys of our patients and their families through our financial and emotional support by providing critical resources.
What NYC hospitals is Harboring Hearts currently affiliated with?
The Mount-Sinai Hospital, NYU Langone, Westchester Medical Center, NewYork-Presbytarian/Columbia, NewYork Presbytarian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, NewYork-Presbytarian/Weill Cornell, North Shore University Hospital, Montefiore Hospital
What is one of the biggest challenges in running a non-profit in current times?
One of the biggest challenges we are facing, like so many other nonprofits, is working to diversify our funding streams. The pandemic changed the lives of every person in some way, and a small nonprofit like ours, was no different. Prior to pandemic, we ran events in hospitals which were led by our volunteers as well as various volunteer events. Given COVID-19, and the necessary safety precautions hospitals need to take, we have paused our events until things open up again.
Can you share some of the ways in which people local to NYC can get involved with the organization?
One big way people can get involved is to follow us on social media. We are on Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. Another way, is to provide meals, transportation, and/or housing assistance to a cardiac surgery patient and their family in need.
In 1998, Deborah was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that causes the heart muscle to work harder to send blood to the rest of the body. In 2006, Deborah was diagnosed with Atrial fibrillation (Afib), which causes the heart to beat rapidly and causes poor blood flow. In 2019, Deborah was diagnosed with congestive heart failure (CHF), a heart condition that means the heart does not pump blood as well as it should. Deborah’s prognosis was not good, diagnosed with stage 4 CHF, and allergic to the two medications that could help her symptoms, her doctors advised that she get a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) placed, which is a mechanical pump implanted in the heart to help it pump. As she waited for her LVAD surgery, her doctors informed her that another option for her could be a heart transplant. In February 2021, listed for a new heart. Deborah waited one month for her new heart, which she received in March 2021.
Contact: Nikkya Hargrove at email@example.com