18-year-old Regina woman raising money to travel to Minnesota for heart surgery

A Regina woman is raising money to travel to Rochester, Minnesota undergo heart surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

Julia Genaille, 18, has Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a rare heart disease that causes the thickening of the heart muscle. A doctor diagnosed her with the disease at the age of 12.

“He told my mom, right then and there, that my life was never going to be the same,” said Julia.

She had a pacemaker implanted in her heart six years ago. Following the procedure, she had no symptoms of the disease up until earlier this year. Julia said she has now gone from having a heart disease, to being in stage 3 heart failure.

“She went from being just kind of an average teenager, to not being able to get out of bed, not being able to go for walks, getting so short of breathe that she gets dizzy and has to sit down,” said Jessica Genaille, Julia’s mother.

Julia is scheduled to travel to Rochester in August to have open-heart surgery, which doctors hope will slow the progression of her disease and delay her need for a heart transplant.

“Not only would it be life saving, but it would be life altering. She could be an average 18-year-old again,” said Jessica.

Genaille said the province is covering the cost of the surgery. The only barrier is the cost of travel and accommodations.

“Because of having to quit my job and everything to take care of her during the pandemic and while she’s been getting sicker, that’s a struggle,” said Jessica.

The family has put on several fundraising events, and has now started a GoFundMe page to raise the remaining dollars needed.

“I’ve missed out on a lot of possibilities,” said Julia. “And I really hope that, after this surgery, that I can come back to those possibilities.”