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Heart defect doesn't deter love for this El Dorado Hills couple

By: Penne Usher, Telegraph Correspondent
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“There is no promise except the promise of hope.”

That is one El Dorado Hills’ woman’s message for Valentine’s Day.

Feb. 14 may be about candy, flowers and romantic dinners for some, but for Lauren Bednarz , 25, who was born with a congenital heart defect, it’s about being thankful for her life.

The Michigan transplant has undergone two open heart surgeries to date and is facing a third in the very near future.

She will tell you she basically has “half a heart.”

 “There really are no fixes,” Bednarz said “In simple terms I was born without a right ventricle. So only my left side works. Basically I have half a heart.”

Feb. 14 is National Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day and Bednarz wants to share a message of hope and inspiration for others who are diagnosed with CHDs.

Many with CHDs do not live beyond their 40s, but that prognosis hasn’t deterred Bednarz from moving forward and sharing her message with others.

“I want to give hope to parents that their children can live a life, graduate college and get married,” she said. “I want to give them hope that there is a future and to dream of one.”

Bednarz was born in Michigan and had her first open heart surgery at 6 months of age and her second when she was 2 years old.

“The reason I wanted to share my stories because one in 100 babies are born with a heart defect,” she said. “There is hope for a future.”

Bednarz couldn’t participate in sports because of her illness and had to sit out often. Her stamina and ability to move about is limited by heart function and lung capacity.

None of that mattered to the man who captured … well, her heart.

Bednarz met her husband Chris while the two were attending college in Michigan. The couple were introduced by Bednarz’ father.

“We dated for more than three years before we got married,” she said. “Chris has been my rock and best friend who not only has provided for me but is walking along side me during my lifelong fight with Congenital Heart Disease.”

Chris Bednarz, 28, had an opportunity to work for Intel as a software engineer in Folsom and just days before the move from Michigan, he and Lauren married in a simple courthouse ceremony.

The couple have been married just 13 months and now Lauren is facing a serious heart procedure in Texas.

In March the couple fly to Houston to determine if Lauren qualifies for her “tune up” procedure. If not, her only option is a transplant.

“It’s something tough to deal with,” Chris Bednarz said. “You have to learn how to adapt.”

As for the upcoming medical procedure in Texas with a team of specialists, Chris said he’s a bit anxious.

“I’m nervous that something bad could happen,” he said. “It’s financially draining and emotional at the same time. I don’t have much fear at this point, but when the surgery gets closer, that could change.”

Laruen is remarkably upbeat when it comes to what will be a lifelong battle with heart disease and the prospect of facing transplant surgery in the future.

“The longer I can keep the heart I have the better,” she said. “For now, I’m celebrating the fact that I am here.”

To learn more about CHDs and Lauren’s battle, visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Laurens-Heart-Living-a-Full-Life-with-Half-a-Heart/199427900186738?fref=ts