‘Hailey Strong’ Campaign Helps Air Force Cadet Get Better After Heart Attack

On March 25, Air Force Cadet and sophomore Hailey Lane suffered a heart attack after she entered her parents’ gym and was stretching after her work out. She was taken to the hospital and put on life support after being unconscious for 20 minutes. She was home from the Air Force Academy to spend spring break with her family.

Although 735,000 Americans will suffer a heart attack each year, the average age for a first time heart attack for a woman is around age 70. Hailey, who was only 19 at the time of her heart attack, was in excellent health and had been preparing for her physical fitness test. She is also a competitive swimmer. Because of Hailey’s heart attack, her family will all have checkups to make sure they are all healthy.

For sisters Caitlin and Savannah, Hailey’s twin, it came as some of the worst news of their life. It didn’t stop them from wanting to do something to help Hailey. While Hailey was in the hospital in critical condition, her family decided to start a social media campaign. They called it #WeAreHaileyStrong and reached millions, including Al Roker, Ryan Lochte and the USA swimming team, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hailey comes from a close family that includes her twin Savannah, twins Caitlin and Brianna, 21, and brother Brennan, 10.

Caitlan said that they believed that using social media would help them get the word out.

“We just wanted as many people praying for her as possible. Social media has helped us spread her message first amongst family members and friends. Now, the amount of people worldwide who have supported her completely overwhelms me yet, at the same time, makes my heart so full.”

The family posted regular updates on Hailey’s condition. It led to over 600 posts and reached over 712,000 according to Keyhole, a hashtag tracker they used to track the hashtag #WeAreHaileyStrong.

Hailey suffered a lot of setbacks. In addition to suffering a massive heart attack, her kidneys failed several times. She had to be put on life support. Family and friends worried that she wouldn’t make it to her 20th birthday. Hailey remained on life support to help her heart pump and lungs breathe. She was removed from life support after successful heart surgery. Although there are still problems with the right side of her heart, her surgeon said they are “hopeful of a full recovery.”

Because of Hailey’s heart attack, she and her twin Savannah celebrated their 20th birthday in the hospital. Mom Brigid wrote on Facebook.

“Twenty years ago, two hearts beat in darkness together, waiting to emerge into the world. Now, in a room where lights are often dimmed against pain, a weakened heart beats while the other heart aches with love and devotion for her twin sister.”