Freedom Stories

Heart rhythm disturbances, known as arrhythmias, are the single most common cause of death in the US and have a disabling effect on millions of people each year. The Heart Rhythm Institute (HRI) is a non-profit institute of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. HRI was co-founded by Drs. Warren Jackman and Ralph Lazzara bringing together scientists, physicians and engineers to find cures for people with arrhythmias. HRI is recognized internationally as a leader in solving many of these challenges, yet there is still much to do. Your support will enable continued research that may directly benefit you or your family.

Shona Huffman:
My journey began in 1981 at age 11 with a visit to the ER. Diagnosed with a very rare, painful ventricular arrhythmia, I had one of the very first Electrophysiology studies done on a child, but there was no cure then. I lived with the pain, dizziness and exhaustion year after year. As the years passed it was scary, a nuisance and stressful---but as a mother, it was impossible. In 1995, I had my first ablation, lasting nine hours and they couldn't find it. Depression and acceptance followed—I would have to find a way to live with it. Years passed and in the spring of 2009, my arrhythmia took on a new fury. I was referred HRI by my doctors in Dallas. In the first ablation, I came out of the 10 hour procedure without being cured. However, they were able to determine the arrhythmia was coming from the outside of my heart. I had another procedure going in through the chest, chasing the rhythm from the outside of my heart. After another 10 grueling hours of an epicardial ablation, I looked at a heart monitor and saw for the first time in 28 years, that my rare, complicated, difficult to chase arrhythmia was GONE! I stared at that heart monitor all night--not believing that it could be possible. I celebrated my 40th birthday by dancing ALL night long and by climbing ALL 354 steps to the Crown of the Statue of Liberty.Today, I am grateful, I am blessed, I am a happy heart.

Carla Simmons:
I was a patient at Heart Rhythm Institute in September 2003. I had persistent, uncontrolled atrial fibrillation. I experienced shortness of breath, palpitations and fatigue. Even after extensive testing, multiple medication changes, frequent hospitalizations and cardioversion, my arrhythmia persisted. I underwent a radiofrequency catheter ablation. I am happy to report that the procedure was successful and that I have had no reoccurrence for almost ten years! I was able to return to work as a full-time registered nurse and able to travel with my family and friends without worry. Thank you and all of your staff for the professional, excellent care I received during this very scary time in my life. Thank you for healing my heart.

Michele Schneider:
"It's been almost 6 years since my surgery and still no problems ever! We think about how lucky we are to have these two miracles in our life none of which could have been possible without your help with my heart. You will always hold a very special place in our lives."

Darlene Tate:
"A butterfly-flutter in your chest, increasing to a pounding as your heart accelerates to 180-200 bmp your chest tightens and your mind becomes clouded. It has been one week since my ablation was performed. Prognosis - A CURE! A very special HEART-felt thanks to the wonderfully talented and compassionate ministrations of this team!"

Samantha Cordelli:
"I was eighteen when I was diagnosed with WPW (Wolfe-Parkinson-White Syndrome). The biggest blow was when [my doctor] told me that my heart condition could not withstand labor and delivery. A year later I put my future in your [Dr. Jackman's] skilled hands. The following summer I became pregnant with the first of my two sons. Now not only do I have a 'new' life, I have a beautiful little family." 

L. Allen Barber II:
"My life is more normal now than before the ablations. Before, I was shocked frequently, had the fast rates of long duration, was fatigued, and generally hesitated to make plans, as I had no idea what my condition would be a the time of the planned activity. Now, this is gone."

Andrea Schultz:
"Having heart surgery allowed my limitations to disappear. I no longer question how an activity or medicine will effect my heart problem, because I don't have one anymore. I am finally free."

Martin W. Cain, M.D.:
"I was a patient suffering with repeated episodes of non-sustained ventricular tachycardia which were significantly affecting my life style. I attribute my good health to the mercy of God and many prayers were answered. But, you [Dr. Jackman] were the agent through which my life was significantly bettered. I know that countless hours of work and research have been invested by you and your team. I want you to know that those of us who experience the benefits of your labors are very grateful." [Pictured from left: Travis, Theresa, Martin & Adrienne.]

Taylor Langley (quote, by mother, Ina):
"It has been 3 months since Taylor underwent her heart ablation. Taylor has recovered nicely and is doing extremely well. Thank you for taking such wonderful care of her." 

Bill Cobb:
"I'm struggling to find the correct vocabulary to express my extreme gratitude for the treatment I received during the week of July 24, 2000. My experience was nothing short of phenomenal. I am left with the impression that I received the most professional and sincere care I have ever witnessed in my entire life. I am left with the feeling of ineptness when I can only say "Thank You" from my very heart that you repaired." 

Susan Skinner (quote, by mother, Carol):
"I'm not quite sure of the right words to thank you for changing my daughter's life. I feel so very grateful. "Thank you": two small words we mean with all our hearts."