I'm a writer, a speaker, and an advocate, based in San Francisco.
I’m Leilani Graham.
Not content with the typical onslaught of changes that one's teenage years bring, my heart decided to give me my first sudden cardiac arrest at age 13. Between navigating childhood in Silicon Valley and young adulthood in New York City I survived three more SCAs and a few implanted cardioverter defibrillator upgrades.
When I eventually finished my degree in visual and performing arts at the University of Southern California I moved back to the Bay Area and turned a competitive summer internship at Google into a full-time gig.
Alight with professional opportunity, my real journey as a patient was inauspiciously just getting started. In the Fall of 2015 I was diagnosed with Stage IV Heart Failure and was listed for transplant. On February 2, 2016 I was transplanted and on February 3, 2016 I coded and was put on external life support, eventually requiring four open heart surgeries and numerous hours of intensive care, physical therapy, cardiac rehab, and eventually permanent cardiac resynchronization therapy to survive.
Whew. What can I say? I have expensive taste.
I'm a four time cardiac arrest and four-time open-heart surgery survivor, ECMO success story, former ICD-owner, Heart Transplant Recipient, and current Pacemaker-user.
How's that for a mouthful.
These days I speak about my experience, advocate for patients as partners, and write. You can find out more about my past speaking engagements, future projects, and current work in the menu at the top of your page. To work with me, hit the big button below.