A Program of the Medtronic Foundation

Lisa Visser
Bakken Honoree Lisa Visser 

Lisa Visser, 42

2015 Bakken Invitation Honoree

Orono, Minnesota, U.S.
Charity: Temple Israel's Committee to End Homelessness

Medical Condition: Sudden cardiac arrest due to a heart defect
Medical Therapy: Implantable cardioverter defibrillator

I Want to Share My Inspiring Story

Lisa's "extra life"Inspires Me

Lisa suffered a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at the age of 26, leading to a diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, a congenital heart defect. She now has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to treat future SCA episodes. Grateful for the extra life she receives, she has volunteered time helping various organizations for the homeless in Minnesota.

Lisa's Story

"I have an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to combat arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD), a congenital heart defect. ARVD is a rare form of cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle of the right ventricle is replaced by fat and/or fibrous tissue, causing the right ventricle to be dilated and contract poorly. As a result, the ability of the heart to pump blood is usually weakened.

“Patients with ARVD often have abnormal heart rhythms, which can increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest, and death. I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at the age of 26. I was hospitalized, diagnosed with ARVD and provided with an ICD. This was a life-changing event for me.

“So many people contributed to saving my life that, 15 years later, my ‘thank yous’ do not end. Experiencing firsthand how quickly life can be taken away, I personally accepted my own challenge of doing what I can to give back to those who need help.

“I have use my extra life to advocate for the Minneapolis homeless community. That includes organizing the “United to End Homelessness” event . In 2013, the Minnesota Legislature allocated approximately $60 million in funding for homeless initiatives. In 2014, that dollar figure increased to more than $100 million. Funding in bothyears was influenced by the Unite to End Homelessness event, which provides an opportunity for the community to work toward improving advocacy skills to push for policy change.”

Lisa's words of inspiration

“Work hard at creating goodness.”

Share to
inspire others

$20,000 Grant Makes an Impact

The Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness (DCEH) is an interfaith collaboration of 13 downtown Minneapolis churches, synagogues and mosques working together to end homelessness and poverty. DCEH focuses on shifting from an immediate-needs approach to long-term solutions through a combination of education, advocacy and action.


Learn about other 2015 Honorees »

*Not everyone who receives this therapy will receive the same results as the patient in this story. Talk with your doctor to determine if this type of therapy is right for you. Please refer to Important Safety Information.