Meet an honoree for this year’s North Country Heart Walk

Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 4:48 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Ahead of this weekend’s American Heart Association North Country Heart Walk, we meet one of this year’s honorees.

A lot of big and exciting things are coming for 18-year-old Ryan Podvin like prom and graduation.

He’s an A-plus student, high school athlete, and now an ambassador for the American Heart Association.

“It’s pretty neat,” he said.

Playing soccer and lacrosse, Ryan noticed in high school that he couldn’t keep up.

“I’d be so tired it would start to hurt and I couldn’t move. It was just really frustrating,” he said.

Ryan already knew he had a condition regarding one of his heart valves. But this was different.

“I’d do one run down the field, and I’d be as tired as someone who played an entire half,” he said.

It was noticeable from the stands, too.

“As the sports got to varsity, it was faster, he was stronger, he was bigger, and it was noticeable right away. He couldn’t run two fields and he needed to come out,” said Ryan’s mother, Brenda Podvin.

After an emotional four years of frustrations and unknowns, a CT scan finally revealed Ryan had partial anomalous pulmonary venous return, a congenital heart condition that causes abnormal blood flow from the lungs to the heart.

Thankful for an answer, but Ryan knew what it meant.

“Surgery. I mean, no one really wants to have surgery, but I was willing to do it at that point after four years of not being able to play sports, really,” he said.

Last August, Ryan underwent that open-heart surgery which meant no gameplay for his senior season.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to play senior year soccer because of the heart surgery, which bummed me out a bunch,” he said.

But Ryan and his parents say his diagnosis and recovery allowed him to find other joys like golf and volunteer work.

“He’s done some things too that I think he wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise,” said Brenda.

Now cleared, Ryan is ready to take to the field once again.

Learn more about his story at the North Country Heart Walk this Saturday at Jefferson Community College.