For Donna Marie Robinson, Health Equity is Personal
Update, June 2021: We are sorry to share the passing of beloved volunteer leader Donna Marie Robinson. Donna Marie was an American Heart Association champion and a true voice for women's heart health. Donna Marie served on the Executive Leadership Team for the San Diego Go Red for Women movement, was Vice Chair of the Circle of Red Giving Society, served as a “Faces of Go Red” ambassador, and fiercely raised awareness everywhere she went about the importance of heart health and health equity. We ask that you remember Donna Marie for her smile, her passion, and her commitment. She will be greatly missed. Please read on to remember Donna with us.
Health equity is more than just a talking point for cardiomyopathy survivor and San Diego Go Red for Women ambassador Donna Marie Robinson.
"Health equity will lead to healthier, more stable, safer communities. That benefits everyone," she said. "Yet all too often, communities of color are left out of the conversations. We don’t have a seat at the table."
Robinson detailed the deficiencies that result in a higher rate of heart disease among Blacks and people of color: poor diet; less access to safe spaces to exercise, such as parks; fewer community health centers and health resources.
She is proud the AHA is working to reduce those disparities. "The American Heart Association is a representative organization that brings everyone to the table. Community leaders are engaged and listening. We are making an impact," Robinson said, citing local tobacco prevention policies and the fight for more affordable health care as two major public health wins that she has worked with the organization to achieve.
Robinson has a severely enlarged heart, an aortic aneurysm and two types of arrhythmias (ventricular tachycardia and atrial fibrillation), and recently had a small clip implanted to treat her leaking mitral valve. Without AHA-funded research into the development of drugs and devices, she said she might not have received the lifesaving medicines she takes daily or her implantable cardioverter defibrillator, which can prevent cardiac arrest.
"The American Heart Association has made a difference in my life," she said. "In fact, they may have saved my life. And together, we are working to address the health inequities in our communities. We have a voice. And that voice is stronger together."