The Rapidian

Daughter of President Gerald R. Ford speaks at Heart Ball

Susan Ford Bales delivers a touching speech during the American Heart Association's Heart Ball where Dr. Asghar Khaghani is presented with the Richard M. DeVos Award.
Susan Ford Bates speaking during Tuesday evenings Heart Ball

Susan Ford Bates speaking during Tuesday evenings Heart Ball /Dale Domer

Dr. Asghar Khaghani being presented with the Richard M. DeVos Award

Dr. Asghar Khaghani being presented with the Richard M. DeVos Award /Dale Domer

Susan Ford Bales, daughter of President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford, spoke of her family's shared battle against heart disease on Tuesday evening during the American Heart Association’s 2013 Heart Ball. The JW Marriot ballroom held over 250 guests, all of whom gathered with stories of either triumph or defeat against the rhythmic beat that sustains life- the heart.  

"My mother had coronary bypass surgery; dad had aortic stenosis and died of congestive heart failure. Both dad and I had pacemakers implanted,” says Bales.

Often an advocate for her mother Betty Ford’s courageous attitude during her fight against breast cancer, Bales spoke briefly of her own health during last evening’s heart gala. 

“Mine was the result of going into full cardiac arrest three years ago while on an elliptical machine,” says Bales.

Giving remembrance to her parents, President Gerald R. Ford and Mrs. Betty Ford, the speech closed with encouragement to those who face the battle as well as those who work towards finding a defeating solution.

“Let us go forth tonight and honor their legacies,” she says. “Let us redouble our efforts to a dinner by causes and develop cures for heart disease.”

The American Heart Association is noted for their funded research efforts in advancements such as pacemakers, artificial heart valves, blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering drugs and CPR. All funds raised from the Heart Ball will fund cardiovascular research and education.

Following Susan Ford Bale’s speech, Richard DeVos presented Dr. Asghar Khaghani, lead surgeon for the Richard Devos Heart and Lung Transplant Program through the Frederik Meijer Heart and Vascular Institute, as the recipient of the 2013 Richard M. DeVos Award.

DeVos, having faced a need for a heart transplant 16 years ago, shared his life saving encounter with Dr. Asghar Khaghani. After being denied from each heart surgeon in the country, DeVos received news that a doctor in London might be able to perform his heart surgery.

“I needed a very unique heart and there was a woman in this hospital who had that unique heart. They asked her if she would give it up if she got a new one. She said yes, and that was the first miracle,” says DeVos.

Dr. Asghar Khaghani successfully removed the woman’s heart and replaced the loss with new lungs and heart all while DeVos was being operated on in the next room.

“So we are here to celebrate life,” says DeVos. “Celebrate everything you can, any experience you would do for a party. Don’t look for one, find one. Create one. Life moves quick.”

Upon receiving the award, Dr. Asghar Khaghani gave special thanks to his wife, family and all West Michigan cardiac surgeons and cardiologists.

“I will treasure this as the best thing that I have achieved in my life during my working time,” he said. "Thank you very much."

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