1 of 2
2 of 2
Hannah Thaxton’s a survivor who’s committed to heart research and education.
Teenage girls are often centered on the here-and-now, but Hudson High School senior Hannah Thaxton is also focused on the future.
Born prematurely with two holes in her heart, Thaxton was in a car accident at age five, which caused second-degree heart-block. This condition occurs when electrical signals between the heart’s atria and ventricles become very slow. If these signals are blocked, the ventricles won’t pump blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.
She was LifeFlighted to Michigan, where her first pacemaker was implanted. Seven years ago, Dr. John Clark at Akron Children’s Hospital implanted Thaxton’s second pacemaker.
Fast forward, 2011: Thaxton was at Salon 180, talking to her stylist about doing a fundraiser for the American Heart Association, in which people would make a donation in exchange for getting a red hair extension at the salon. Her idea was well-received, and the February event — Hannah’s Whole Heart — got the green light.
“I have a pacemaker, and research and technology has come a long way to make pacemakers even happen,” she says. “The more research and education that are done, the better a sick person can be treated and hopefully live longer.”
At first, Thaxton told just a few people about the fundraiser, and then a friend helped her create a Facebook page and posters.
“On Feb. 1, only some of my friends and I had red hair, and by the end of the month, the halls of my school were filled with girls with red hair extensions,” she says.
Within five days, the first shipment of 150 extensions was gone, and in all, the event raised $1,480 for the American Heart Association. In addition to high school girls participating, so did middle school students and some mothers. Thaxton’s father, Fred, even had a red extension put in his beard.
“I didn’t expect him to do it, but I thought it was nice of him,” she says. “It showed that he supported me.”
Thaxton and Salon 180 hosted the second annual Hannah’s Whole Heart event this February, and today, this ambitious teen continues to follow her heart-healthy regimen. She sees Dr. Clark twice a year for checkups and does monthly pacemaker checks over the phone. She works out, maintains a healthy weight and gave up fast food and pop six years ago.
Thinking ahead, Thaxton says young women should make heart health a priority now to enhance their quality of life as they transition into adulthood.
“Many,” she says, “become mothers so they need to be healthy for their family.”