Jamie Roger’s story - Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day

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Jamie Roger’s story

Growing up, Jamie Rogers played just about every sport there was to play, with no awareness of anything wrong with his heart. Four years ago, the 39 year-old Columbia native decided to start running to lose weight and get back in shape. Around the same time, after being a pastor in South Carolina for 13 years, Jamie and his wife felt that God was leading them beyond their home turf, and they moved to Long Island, New York to help lead a church in the town of Farmingdale.

One beautiful late August morning, Jamie decided to take advantage of the great weather and go out for an early morning run in his new hometown. When he began his jog, he soon realized that he wasn’t able to run. He couldn’t breathe. He ran a half mile, and was forced to transition to walking. He tried to run once more, but could not continue and walked the rest of the way home.

That afternoon, while on laundry duty, he couldn’t even lift his arms to fold a towel.

Being a pastor and a missionary can come with a fair amount of stress and pressure, and Jamie figured that was most likely the problem. He had tests run with his primary care doctor in New York. Everything had come back normal, but Jamie was still having issues. So, he called Rodney Rhinehart, M.D., a cardiologist at Providence Health in Columbia, SC and an old family friend.

Jamie and his wife flew down on Monday, and by 11 a.m. on Tuesday morning, he knew that he had to have open heart surgery to perform a standard aortic valve replacement. It wasn’t related to his diet, just something he had been born with.

The experience that Jamie had at Providence backed up the faith he had put into it.

“From the first steps we had in the hospital to my pre-op to the day we got out, we had nothing but good care,” Jamie recalls. “It was like we were dealing with our friends. My surgeon came in every day to see me.”

For Jamie, the most difficult physical experience of his life has actually enriched his ministry.

“It’s made me a lot more caring and empathetic toward people who are struggling and have physical difficulties,” he says. “It’s given me the ability to sit down with someone and say, ‘I’m here with you. I don’t have the answers, but I’ve been through something like it.’”

Jamie is walking for exercise again, and is back preaching on Long Island. He feels good and is already back to a fairly normal schedule.

“I knew going in, it was going to be hard, and recovery is a difficult thing. But if people can go in mentally prepared to work hard after the surgery, I think that helps with recovery. Just be aware that you’ll go through ups and downs, but it will get better. It’s going to be ok.”