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Inspiring hope in heart disease patients

Mended Hearts is a volunteer group that helps current heart patients in their recovery.

MERIDIAN — A volunteer group in the Treasure Valley is helping heart patients with encouragement. Mended Hearts is a peer support group. The members have all gone through a heart event. They bring their stories to patients currently going through a very scary time in their lives.

Dennis Shiedlak had major heart complications four years ago.

"I was in a dark place at that time," said Shiedlak.

He wasn't expected to make it, but now he's visiting current heart patients.

"I could say that I've been there and I know what you're going through and there's a light at the end of the tunnel," said Shiedlak.

He's doing it through a volunteer support group called Mended Hearts. Mary Ellen Voshell started the Boise area chapter in 2012 after her own heart event prevented her from going back to teaching.

"I was really sad about that and I needed something to put all of my energy of my love of helping people and when this opportunity came up I just grabbed it," said Voshell.

Mended Hearts members visit patients in five Treasure Valley hospitals. The cardiac unites put together a census for them every week.

"So many times there's super high anxiety when a patient has a heart attack or heart event as we refer to them and they really need to talk to someone who's been there and survived," said Voshell.

It's also helpful for the caretakers to hear from them during such a difficult time.

"They have a million questions," said Wini Trapp, who is a Mended Hearts member.

Trapp joined Mended Hearts after her husband, Ray, had a heart attack. She visits patients at St. Luke's in downtown Boise. One week she says there will be 20 patients and the next week there will be 20 new patients.

"It's just amazing how many people have heart issues," said Trapp. "It's just amazing."

That is why the group in red is so passionate about their mission to inspire hope in heart disease patients and their families.

"It's been a delight," said Voshell. "It's been such a warm, welcoming group."

You can find more information about Mended Hearts here. There is also a Mended Little Hearts group for the smallest of patients and their parents that is through St. Luke's Children's Hospital.