do good: Melvin Sires

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MELVIN SIRES

Mended Hearts volunteer Melvin Sires uses his experience to assist new heart patients at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.   LISA KAYLOR/STAFF
LISA KAYLOR/STAFF
Mended Hearts volunteer Melvin Sires uses his experience to assist new heart patients at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.

AGE: 77

YEARS OF SERVICE: 10

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION: Mended Hearts is a nonprofit organization made up of volunteers who have been affected in some way by heart disease. Many of its members are heart or cardiovascular patients. Volunteers offer support and information to new patients suffering from heart disease and their families by sharing their experiences.

The group also raises money for heart-related projects. It purchased cardiovascular equipment for area nursing schools in 2010 and is working to equip area ambulances with ECG transmission equipment, which allows hospitals to receive heart information before the patient reaches the emergency room.

Volunteers also assist with Shepeard Community Blood Center drives and other heart-related outreach projects.

WHAT HE DOES: Sires is the visitors chairman for the local chapter, so he oversees the Mended Hearts volunteer corps at Aiken Regional Medical Centers.

He also visits new heart patients daily. He encourages the patient through the initial emergency visit and follows up after the patient leaves the hospital, if the patient wishes. He encourages them in maintaining a healthy lifestyle to prevent future heart problems.

WHY HE DOES IT: "My primary reason is to help other people. I know what it's like to go through it without knowing much about what's going on. I think people should have the opportunity to get first-hand information, and this is a way of doing that. My wife will back me on that, too. She was a caregiver, as a family member of a patient. She didn't know anything, and I didn't know anything, but that was before Mended Hearts. Now that doesn't happen."

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Anyone who has had heart disease and wants to volunteer must attend training to learn about the hospital's and the organization's policies and procedures. They also attend a two-hour seminar annually. Hospital visitors must sign a confidentiality statement acknowledging that patient medical information is confidential and protected by law.

LEARN MORE: Information about the national Mended Hearts organization is available at www.mendedhearts.org. For information about the Aiken chapter, contact Sires at (803) 649-4073 or chapter President Pat Boardman at (803) 642-6897.



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