As the recently-crowned Miss Pennsylvania National Teenager and a pacemaker recipient, Lindsay Siegle is a unique addition to Temple’s student body.
Siegle, an Allentown, Pa., freshman who lives in 1300, is the youngest pacemaker recipient in the United States. When her mother was seven months pregnant, doctors discovered that Siegle had an irregular heart beat as a result of a total blockage in her mother’s heart. At the same time they discovered a hole between the chambers of Siegle’s heart.
On Aug. 5, 1986, Siegle had a pacemaker inserted to correct her irregular heart beat. She was just a day old.
Pacemakers must be replaced every seven to 10 years, and Siegle is scheduled for surgery on Dec. 21.
“I’m nervous and scared, but I’m used to it,” she said.
Siegle’s upcoming operation will be to replace her fourth pacemaker. The wire, an integral part of the pacemaker, needs replacement because it has a crack in it.
“If the wire were to go, I would be in trouble,” she said. Her heart can beat about 30 to 40 times per minute on its own; a normal heart beats nearly twice as often. She had her last operation in seventh grade.
Siegle thinks this time will be different for her: “This time I know all the risks,” she said.
She said that the pacemakers keep getting smaller, making surgeries faster and less invasive, so her hospital stays keep getting shorter. She will need three months to fully recover from this round of surgery.
Siegle has also had two open heart surgeries to correct her ventricular septal defect (VSD), which is the hole in her heart. She was two and ten years old when she had those surgeries.
“There are times when I get down on myself because of my scars,” she said. Still, Siegle says she remains optimistic because people around her are very supportive.
“People that know think it’s really cool. It makes me unique; I made medical history,” she said.
Despite her serious condition, Siegle does not consider herself much different from any other college student. Her only restriction is that she cannot participate in contact sports. She does believe that dealing with her condition has made her more appreciative than most students.
“I feel like I’m more mature, I appreciate life more…I know that life is something to cherish,” Siegle explained.
Siegle has become involved with various community service activities through the American Heart Association. She began her own project called Straight from the Heart in her freshman year of high school as part of her senior graduation requirement.
Siegle, along with her parents and others who participate, delivers toys at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia on Christmas Day. Straight from the Heart was initially supposed to focus on children in the heart unit, but so many donations were received every year that Siegle began delivering toys to children in the entire hospital. This will be Siegle’s fifth year doing Straight from the Heart.
She is also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association and the Philadelphia 76ers have recently named her a “Hometown Hero” for all of her work with the American Heart Association.
In her budding career at Temple, Siegle is pursuing Communications as her major and hopes to study abroad in London. She is also considering cultivating her interest in helping children through recreation therapy.
Kristin Maranki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.