A heartwarming journey to recovery

Smiling nurse with her laptop

Kelly Calvino is all heart. It’s evident in everything she has done throughout her lifetime.

As an athlete: From excelling in gymnastics, volleyball, track, and soccer as a student at Whitefish Bay High School in Milwaukee. To competing as a diver while attending Syracuse University. Then taking up running as an adult. Kelly completed more than 12 long distance races while pregnant with coaching from her mother, who ran through all three of her pregnancies as well.

As a nurse: After being introduced to cardiology as a kid due to her father’s career in international cardiovascular sales—and exploring the field further during a college internship—Kelly ultimately pursued a nursing career in mostly cardiovascular and thoracic services.

As a mother: Passing on her love of water sports to her three sons Parker, Emery, and Finley so they could enjoy swimming, water skiing, and more as a family. Though they tragically lost Emery following an incident on the water four years ago, Kelly and her husband, Tony, ensured his memory would live on through organ donation and an annual nonprofit fundraising campaign.

Because Kelly has always had so much heart to give, she never could have imagined that her heart function would be severely weakened in her late thirties. When visiting St. Clair Health for an evaluation, she was shocked to learn she has non-ischemic cardiomyopathy with congestive heart failure.

“Most of us probably assume that’s a condition associated with later ages,” says Christopher Pray, MD, Director of Cardiac Imaging and Heart Failure at St. Clair Health, “But we do see patients with weakened heart muscles and congestive heart failure at any age.”

“I didn’t really think it was that serious because I didn’t feel sick other than being short of breath,” shares Kelly. “I’m so thankful every day that Dr. Pray ordered a bedside echocardiogram and admitted me for additional testing. I really feel like he saved my life.”

“Our collaborative, multidisciplinary approach allowed us to very quickly understand why Kelly was having this problem and set her up for the right course of treatment,” explains Dr. Pray. “In less than one year, we’ve watched Kelly’s heart function improve from 21% all the way back up to a normal level of 50%.”

Dr. Pray continues, “It will be an ongoing process to get Kelly back to her normal self, but it’s been very rewarding watching her progress so far.”

“I am now running on my own again and want to keep my heart function within the normal range so I can run one more marathon. I think I’ll get there with guidance from Dr. Pray, along with support and love from Finley, Parker, and Tony. They have been a big source of strength through all this,” emphasizes Kelly.

To make an appointment with Dr. Pray or another provider with St. Clair Medical Group Cardiology, please call 412.942.7780. Learn more about the world-class cardiovascular care available to you, close to home, at stclair.org/scmgcardiology