PLATTSBURGH - Ginger Zimmerman's life was forever changed with three words - permanently dilated cardiomyopathy.
The Rochester woman was diagnosed with the condition in which her heart became weakened and enlarged, leaving it unable to pump blood efficiently.
When she visited a doctor with her symptoms, she learned the mysterious condition slowly robbing her of her energy and her health was a very serious one. It left her heart functioning at barely 15 percent of what the average heart does.
"[The doctor] believed a virus destroyed my heart muscles over the last few years and I suffered the most damage in that last year and a half," said Zimmerman. "He told me, 'I can't even believe you're sitting here."
Given the length of time she had likely suffered from her condition, Zimmerman said her doctor told her she was lucky to be alive.
"With not being on any medications, anything could have killed me," said Zimmerman. "I could have been killed by too much salt or too much potassium - anything. It was a miracle I was sitting there."
The only option facing Zimmerman at the time was a heart transplant, which she eventually underwent and is the reason she's able to share her story today about having regular examinations to catch conditions like hers early.
"I think everyone's able to relate to my story whether I could be your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend. It can connect with everyone," she said.
The North Country will get the chance to hear Zimmerman's story first-hand when she is the featured speaker at the annual Go Red for Women Dinner Wednesday, Jan. 19, at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh's Angell College Center. The event - which will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. - is a fundraiser for the American Heart Association and will feature a silent auction, information tables, health screenings, and a heart-healthy dinner.
Two educational sessions will also be held during the evening - cardiothoracic surgeon Anne Cahill from CVPH Medical Center will present one and Brian Osbourne of An Shen Acupuncture will present the other.
Lauren Maloney of FOX44 will be the hostess of the dinner program.
Seating is still available for the event, with individuals tickets $50 and tables of 10 able to be reserved for $500.
For more information or to register, call Keri Mack at 335-8125.