Who We Are

We are parents of children with congenital heart defects and their medical providers. We are always looking for more family members and medical professionals to join us, so please Contact Us!

H2HC Board of Directors

Dené Almeida

deneDené Almeida has two sons, William, age 9, and Jackson, age 5. Jackson was diagnosed in utero with DILV (Dual Inlet Left Ventricle), which is a form of HRHS (Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome). He has completed the Fontan palliation, spending 13 weeks of his childhood at Duke University Medical Center, often coming home between surgeries with supplemental oxygen and feeding tubes. With the help of many medical professionals at Duke, Jackson has conquered those obstacles and is thriving. Dené is blessed to stay home full time with her two children, putting her front and center as Jackson’s main medical caregiver. The time she has cared for her son in the hospital as well as in the home setting has made her passionate about reaching out to families that are dealing with similar issues. She is a fitness enthusiast with multiple half marathons and triathlons under her belt, dragging her husband Jason kicking and screaming the whole way.

M. Jay Campbell, MD

campbellM. Jay Campbell, MD is an Assistant Professor of Pediatric Cardiology at Duke University. He joined the faculty at Duke in 2008 after completing his pediatric and pediatric cardiology training at Vanderbilt University. He specializes in the care of children with acquired and congenital heart disease as well as adults with congenital heart disease. He specializes in non-invasive cardiac imaging: echocardiography, cardiac MRI and fetal echocardiography. His research interests are focused non-invasive cardiac imaging and improving the utility of these modalities in pediatric cardiology. He is very interested in improving the quality of care provided to pediatric cardiology patients through Quality Improvement initiatives. He is a candidate for a Master of Healthcare Administration at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health. He lives in Durham with his wife. (http://pediatrics.duke.edu/faculty/details/0483031)

Emily Cornett

emilyEmily Cornett is a board member of Heart 2 Heart Collaborative. She is a mom of three, 2 daughters and a son. Her son was diagnosed at 5 weeks old with narrowing and coarctation of his aorta and a bicuspid valve. His open heart surgery was at 6 weeks old. He is doing very well and is a typical wild and crazy 2 year old little boy. Emily is a stay at home mom and homeschools her 2 daughters. Emily enjoys working with other heart families to make their experience at Duke as positive as possible.

Ushma Patel

ushma2Ushma Patel is a health services researcher with a background in health policy and management. Her daughter, Asha, is 1.5 years old and was diagnosed with supravalvular pulmonary stenosis and Wolff Parkinson White syndrome, after struggling to gain weight in the first few months of life. Asha underwent a balloon catheterization at 5 months and open heart surgery at 7 months. She is now doing well although still being treated for other conditions including bilateral congenital ptosis and a suspected genetic condition. Ushma currently works for a non-profit organization, the American Institutes for Research, conducting health services research in the field of patient engagement. After working in this field for several years and experiencing the health care system as a patient and mom, she is passionate about improving the patient experience for heart families.

Tammy L. Uhl, RN, MSN, CCRN, CCNS

tammyTammy L Uhl, RN, MSN has been practicing pediatric critical care nursing for nearly 30 years. She obtained her graduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2000, becoming a Pediatric Critical Care Clinical Nurse Specialist. She joined the Duke Pediatric Critical Care Team in 2008 after working at several other children’s hospitals along the East Coast. Her specific interests are Quality and Safety Initiatives, Evidence-based delivery of care and Patient and Family Centered Care in the Pediatric Cardiac and Pediatric Intensive Care Units at Duke Children’s Hospital. Tammy lives in Greensboro and enjoys cycling, kayaking and the beach.

H2HC Officers

Matthew Starr – Chair

mattMatthew Starr is Chair of Heart 2 Heart Collaborative. At 2 days old Matthew’s daughter went from being a normal post delivery discharge to being admitted to the Pediatric Cardiac ICU at Duke Hospital. Lilly was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis with a unicommissural valve. She had a balloon catheterization at 3 days old a spent a week in the ICU. Although her first open heart surgery is in the near future, Lilly is now approaching her third birthday remaining surgery free thanks to her strength and outstanding care at Duke Children’s. Matthew has done one tour in Iraq and is now the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper. He works to make sure that our water is fishable, swimmable, and drinkable. Matthew lives in Raleigh with his wife and their three beautiful children.

Lori Smoot – Co-chair

loriLori Smoot grew up in North Carolina, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, OH, and studied Christian Ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. She has lived abroad in Italy, India, and South Africa. She now resides in Zebulon, NC with her husband and four children. While living in India, her youngest child, Thelo, was diagnosed at 19 weeks gestation with a narrow aorta. Further investigation found additional heart defects, causing a necessary return to the US in 2013. Thelo was diagnosed at Duke with a variant of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and subsequently had the Norwood open heart surgery at 9 days old and Glenn at 4 months old. While living in South Africa, Thelo experienced heart failure. After returning to Duke, he was listed for a heart transplant in September 2015. Well enough to be transitioned to inactive on the transplant list in 2016, he is now waiting for the Fontan procedure in 2017. Lori was one of the founding members of H2H Collaborative and now serves as the group’s co-chair.

Jason Almeida – Secretary/Data Master

willJason Almeida is a software engineer with over 20 years of professional experience. His current employer is Logos Technologies, an imaging science company. His company was exceptionally supportive when his son Jackson was diagnosed with DILV (Dual Inlet Left Ventricle), allowing him to keep his position despite a truly erratic schedule. His time in the hospital with his son made him appreciate that parents need to be their child’s best advocates. Moreover, as a working parent of a child with medical issues, he has dealt with the added pressure to work/life balance. He and his wife Dené helped found Heart 2 Heart Collaborative to spread messages of advocacy and support digitally. Jason “enjoys” running and watching hockey with his wife Dené and sons William and Jackson.

Joye Mullis – Patient and Family Support Liaison

joyeJoye Mullis serves as the Patient and Family Support Liaison for Heart 2 Heart Collaborative after many years of mentoring and supporting heart families in the Triangle area. She is a proud heart mom to Ethan, who was born in 2009 with undetected critical congenital heart defects. His birth and subsequent surgeries propelled Joye to work with legislators and fellow advocates to have the Pulse Oximetry Screening Law passed in 2013 for North Carolina. Joye lives in Raleigh with her husband, Jeramie, and is a stay at home mom to Ethan and her two foster children. As a family, they enjoy serving in their church community, watching movies, and spending time with family and friends.

Ushma Patel – Treasurer

ushma2Ushma Patel is a health services researcher with a background in health policy and management. Her daughter, Asha, is 1.5 years old and was diagnosed with supravalvular pulmonary stenosis and Wolff Parkinson White syndrome, after struggling to gain weight in the first few months of life. Asha underwent a balloon catheterization at 5 months and open heart surgery at 7 months. She is now doing well although still being treated for other conditions including bilateral congenital ptosis and a suspected genetic condition. Ushma currently works for a non-profit organization, the American Institutes for Research, conducting health services research in the field of patient engagement. After working in this field for several years and experiencing the health care system as a patient and mom, she is passionate about improving the patient experience for heart families.