open-heart surgeries and even clinically dying during two of them, this British
woman born with three holes in her heart has defied the expectations of doctors
who thought she wouldn’t survive to live a full life!
And now she
competes as a professional bodybuilder.
Samantha Gallier (27), who grew up on the Isle of Wight, was just 10 days old
when doctors diagnosed her with having congenital heart defects that weren’t
picked up when she was born.
born with a trio of holes in her heart, narrowing of the aorta, narrowing of
the pulmonary vein and a faulty valve, none of which were noticed until about
10 days after she was born.
childhood was marred by surgeries and hospital appointments which frequently
took her out of school and stopped her from having the experiences her peers
defects also prevented her from taking part in any sports at school out of fear
for her health.
of her operations, Sammi was clinically dead for two minutes each time, and had
to be defibrillated back to life both times.
Now in a far
improved state of health, Sammi has been weight training and bodybuilding for
the past five years, after her loving husband, Tom, encouraged her to give it a
numerous bouts of pleurisy [inflammation of the tissues that line the lungs and chest cavity], pneumonia, septicaemia and heart
failure. As a child, I was Christened in the hospital before one of my
operations as they didn’t think I’d make it,” Sammi explained.
“When I had my
last operation at 12 years old it was hard to take. I remember not wanting to
look at my scar. That’s
already a really hard time in a girl’s life and then add in a health condition
which limits how you live your life.”
congenital heart defects has always restricted Sammi’s lifestyle, but once she
found bodybuilding she was finally able to embrace her passion and got to share
experiences with the most elite in the sport.
been a slim girl and dreamed of putting on weight but was trying to do it the
wrong way,” she said.
“I used to
be on the border of having high blood pressure and there were talks of me being
put back on medication for life.
“But since I
started going to the gym even my cardiac consultants were so impressed with how
healthy I am and how well my heart is doing.
health benefit I’ve had is my fitness levels have improved and my blood
pressure has stabilised.”
aware of the risks involved in pushing herself too hard and she respects her
body’s limits, as well as understanding that every person with a heart defect
will face different limits themselves.
She tries to
work out four to five times a week, but doctors put a cap on how much she can
lift (nothing more than 70kg).
for me are getting my heart rate above 155 beats per minute or getting my blood
pressure too high because of the scar tissue on my aortic arch which I can’t
put pressure on,” she added.
heart rate were to go over 155 beats a minute she’d risk rupturing the scarring
on her aortic arch, requiring further surgery to close this up again.
going over my limits by not doing one rep lifts and not straining or holding my
breath while lifting.
check of my heart rate with a heart rate monitor while I work out.”
odds being against her, Sammi competed in a bodybuilding competition last year.
now are to build more muscle and compete again. I’ve had people doubt me, but I
just prove them wrong,” she said.
know me know that it would take a lot for me to stop living my life.”
doctors are hopeful she won’t need any more open-heart operations in her life
so she’s free to continue competing while inspiring and motivating others.
Source: Magazine Features