Sharing Miracles: A TV program that features inspirational stories of real patients

Major League Baseball slugger Aaron Boone will be featured on January's episode of Sharing Miracles - a 30-minute public affairs television program that tells the compelling and inspirational stories of real patients. Sharing Miracles airs every week on more than 300 television stations nationwide.

A member of one of only three families in history to have three generations play in the major leagues (grandfather Ray, father Bob and brother Bret all played pro baseball), Boone is best known for an eleventh-inning, game-winning home run in the seventh game of the 2003 American League Championship Series. Clinching the series for the New York Yankees over the Boston Red Sox, Boone is said to have extended the "Curse of the Bambino" by one more year. Discussing Boone's famed home run on this month's episode of Sharing Miracles are Red Sox manager Terry Francona and four-time World Series champion Darryl Strawberry.

Speaking about his memorable hit - rated the ninth best home run in history by ESPN's Baseball Tonight - Boone says: "Just to have had a small place in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry is very humbling. I'm reminded of it almost every day by people around the country, no matter what side of the fence they're on. It was an epic series, an epic game between two titans, and to be a part of it was special."

However, despite his notoriety for the home run, Boone says the at-bat most meaningful to him is one that almost never happened - his first time at home plate following open-heart surgery.

While in college, Boone was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve, a congenital heart defect that required yearly check-ups, but no treatment. "Throughout my baseball career, I got it checked on every off-season, but it frankly wasn't a huge part of my life," he says.

However, that all changed in March 2009, when his cardiologist advised additional tests and a consultation with a surgeon. The decision was sobering, with Boone being told he needed open-heart surgery to correct his defect.

"Because my defect hadn't been a big part of my life for the last 15 years, the news really hit home. It was a reality check - here I was preparing for a major league season and my heart was the last thing on my mind," Boone continues. "When I found out about the surgery, my first concern was not playing baseball again. My priority was to have the surgery and be well."

After successfully undergoing the procedure, however, he focused on his recovery and rehabilitation and eventually realized that he was strong enough to consider a return to the sport: "I could see my body respond each day, each week, each month. Seeing myself improve really helped push me further and helped me do the necessary things to keep getting better."

That September - just seven months after being told that he needed open-heart surgery to live - Boone accomplished the unlikely and returned to baseball, playing first base for the Houston Astros in a game against the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field.

In this month's episode of Sharing Miracles, he explains what his experience taught him: "When it comes to dealing with an illness or a medical condition, you have to persevere. There will be moments when it's rough and it's no fun. But the most rewarding thing is to come out of that, to see yourself improve and to see your body return to health. That fight makes you stronger," Boone says.

Also featured in this month's episode is Daiichi Sankyo scientist Dr. Michael Stein, who discusses heart disease and the current research being conducted to treat and combat the disease: "This is a very exciting time in heart research and a very exciting time to be helping patients in changing the way that medical care will be delivered in cardiology in the future." In fact, more than 300 potential new medicines are currently being studied for heart disease and stroke.

Next month's episode will feature seven-time NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning, who survived life-threatening kidney disease and a kidney transplant, yet continued to play basketball upon recovering and win a championship.

Previous episodes of Sharing Miracles have featured Academy Award-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden, an advocate of breast cancer awareness; actor Danny Glover, who suffered from epilepsy; legendary Major League Baseball manager and cancer survivor Joe Torre; Grammy Award-winning country music superstar Naomi Judd, who overcame Hepatitis C; pioneering rapper and actor Ice-T, who speaks about his battle with heart disease; baseball great Darryl Strawberry, who twice beat colon cancer; former Philadelphia Phillies star and ESPN commentator John Kruk, who overcame testicular cancer; Emmy Award-winning actor Joey Pantoliano, who suffers from clinical depression; Football Hall-of-Famer Mike Ditka, who suffers from heart disease; Super Bowl Champion Tedy Bruschi, who recovered from a stroke to return to professional football; and Super Bowl Champion and former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who has asthma.

Other guests on the show have included two-time NCAA tournament-winning University of Connecticut basketball coach Jim Calhoun, who has overcome cancer three times; NBA Hall-of-Famer Dominique Wilkins, who has diabetes; Boston Red Sox star pitcher Jon Lester, who has battled leukemia; Emmy-nominated former star of Family Ties Meredith Baxter, who survived breast cancer; Olympic gold medal winners Mark Spitz (high cholesterol), Bruce Jenner (attention deficit disorder), and Greg Louganis (HIV); syndicated television talk show host Montel Williams, who suffers from multiple sclerosis; actor and Leave It To Beaver star Jerry Mathers, who is affected by diabetes; pop icon and Broadway star Deborah Gibson, who has suffered from devastating anxiety attacks; and Pro Football Hall-of-Famer and Super Bowl Champion Len Dawson, who survived prostate cancer.

The new episode debuts January 3. Sharing Miracles airs on 314 television stations across the country.

SOURCE Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

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