NY Advocates Ask Congress for Increased Funding for Heart Disease Research

Oct 17, 2019

Watson holding a photo of Michael Bovill a 23-year-old Coast Guard cadet who donated his heart.
Credit American Heart Association. / WAER News

A New York heart transplant recipient was among more than 250 American Heart Association advocates to meet with members of Congress Thursday asking them to support a $2.5 billion increase in cardiovascular disease research.  In 2006, Roxanne Watson was at work unloading a truck when she noticed a small pain on her left side.

Six weeks later, she went to the hospital and was told she suffered a silent heart attack.

 My doctor came to me and she said we have good news and we have bad news. I said give me the bad news first. She said the bad news is your heart is failing but the good news is we are going to put you on a transplant list. Now I didn’t think that was good news but it was better than your heart is failing and you’re going to die, said Watson.           

She was on the list for two years.  In July 2008, Watson received a call that she was getting a heart.  She told congress members there’s one major reason why she’s here today.  

I’ve had ten extra years that I never would have had without research. To me, research is definitely the number one thing that I would personally ask for.”

Watson and the other advocates want an additional $2.5 billion dedicated to heart disease research at the National Institutes of Health.   Right now, only five percent of the budget is set aside for that work.  They also urged Congress members to pass legislation that protects patients from surprise medical bills, and enact tighter tobacco and e-cigarette controls.