“You’ve Gotta Have Heart”

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(Remembering Mary Ellen Townsend Harris, 1911-2016)

By the time Eddie Fisher’s hit, “You’ve Gotta Have Heart,” made the charts in 1955, Mary and her daughter were way ahead of him in affairs of the heart.  Two years earlier her daughter, Merle, had been part of an experimental open-heart surgery program at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond.

One day when Mary had Paul at the Harrisonburg Health Center’s Orthopedic Clinic for his monthly visit, the doctor surprised her with a question.  “Have you heard about the Rheumatic Heart Clinic that’s coming here soon?”

“Uh, yes, I saw something about it in the News-Record.”

“The reason I mention it is because I know your daughter has a heart murmur.  There has been a lot of heart research going on over the last few years.  One outcome is a procedure that might offer a cure for Merle’s condition.”

Mary was puzzled…

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