At 1 year old, Stevie Wisz was diagnosed with aortic stenosis, the severe narrowing of the aorta as it branches out from the heart. Her aortic valve was one-sixteenth the size it should have been. Over the years, she received two open heart surgeries and a pacemaker at UCLA Medical Center.
Now 21, Stevie has reached a point where her heart is 100% reliant on her pacemaker. If the pacemaker stops, she collapses. The leakage in her aorta is again severe. And yet she’s a Division I athlete at UCLA—the very place that she says saved her life. “I don’t like being told not to do something. Or that I can’t do something,” she said.