Living with a heart condition

By Tiffany Blackmon - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Countless medical breakthroughs have been made through funding by the American Heart Association. 23 year-old Doug Peterson of Westlake is living proof of the American Heart Association's life changing work.

"What's next, what… what type of life will my child have as a result of this condition," said Lori Peterson, Doug's mother.

Lori Peterson thought her son Doug was a healthy baby boy, but at six weeks of age, a pediatrician told her that Doug had a slight heart murmur.

Lori stated, "Basically told us that it would be something that we would follow and it would clear up hopefully before he left the hospital, unless it was a birth defect."

In Doug's case it was. He had two heart defects, a bicuspid aortic valve and a hole in his heart.

Doug underwent two open heart surgeries before the age of 20 to correct his heart's condition. He received his first mechanical heart valve at the age of nine and at 19 he received a larger one.

"Something you just have to go through I guess, I just went through it," stated Doug Peterson.

Doug leads a healthy, active lifestyle with a mechanical heart valve. He works full time as a landscaper and groundskeeper at Recreation District # 1 in Westlake.

Executive Director of Parks and Recreation, Michael "Tubby" Bergeron stated, "He [Doug] took it upon himself to overcome his problems and look at him now, he's working a normal job."

"I'm just a normal person like anybody else," said Doug.

He is a man of few words, but Doug's life alone speaks volumes to what the American Heart Association can do with the publics help.

"Donations that are made to the American Heart Association enable the research to design and to have these heart valves available," said Lori.

Bergeron stated, "You take an association like that, the (American) Heart Association and their helping people everyday."

Friday evening is the Black and Gold Heart Ball, an event in Southwest Louisiana that celebrates the giving which allows the American Heart Association to continue to impact peoples lives.  You can help the AHA continue in their efforts by making a donation or by getting involved at

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