In Memory of Lori (Updated)

By Adam Pick on August 19, 2010

These are the hardest posts to write. As the sadness is overwhelming my fingertips, I’ll be brief.

Earlier today, our community lost Lori from Austin, Texas following mitral valve surgery. Needless to say, my thoughts and prayers are with Lori’s husband, her three girls, her family and her friends.


Lori (1971-2010)


I am deeply moved by Lori’s passing. I’ve now been staring at my computer for an hour not knowing what to write. Although we only exchanged email one time before her surgery, I could sense Lori’s fun-loving nature and dedication to her family in the words of her Heart Valve Journal. Again, I am overwhelmed.

If you would like to share something (a thought, a story, a memory) about Lori, please click here or visit her Guestbook.

Update: There will be a visitation on Monday, August 23 from 6-8pm at Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home located at 3125 North Lamar Blvd. in Austin. On Tuesday, memorial services will be held at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 3201 Windsor Rd. in Austin at 2pm. A reception will follow in Parish Hall.

The family has asked that – in lieu of flowers – donations may be made to the Lori Tullos Barta Memorial Fund, Downs Syndrome Association of Central Texas, 3710 Cedar Street, Austin, Texas 78705-1450.

In memory of Lori,

Written by Adam Pick
- Patient & Website Founder

Adam Pick, Heart Valve Patient Advocate

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Adam Pick is a heart valve patient and author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery. In 2006, Adam founded to educate and empower patients. This award-winning website has helped over 10 million people fight heart valve disease. Adam has been featured by the American Heart Association and Medical News Today.

Duane Hunt says on August 20th, 2010 at 1:15 pm

All of us who are a part of the Heart Valve Journal family are shocked and grief-stricken at the loss of Lori. Our deepest sympathy and prayers are with her husband, children, and family.

Patricia Shabel says on August 20th, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I am so sorry to hear about her passing. I obviously did not know her, but I know that it takes so much courage to actually have this surgery knowing that we may not survive. I am grateful to have had a successful mitral valve surgery in December, but I do not take it for granted.

My thoughts and prayers are with her family (and with you, Adam), and I honor her memory by living my life to the best that I can each day.

CAROL STEWART says on August 20th, 2010 at 2:08 pm


Patricia says on August 20th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Lori was born the same year as my daughter. I had the Aortic Valve operation last year and I am one of the lucky ones. I am 73 years old. I imagine Lori had a lot going for her being so young but I guess there are no guarantees in this life. My deepest sympathy to her family. Patricia

Cheryl says on August 20th, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I am so very grateful for Adam’s blog and journal forums giving us heart patients a place to garner support while we exchange stories, fears and ideas or just pleasantries. We are a close-knit community of strangers brought together by a common thread and yesterday we lost one of our own. We are all grieving Lori B’s loss. While we didn’t know Lori personally, we certainly identify with the fear of preparing and entering that operating room or if we are a caregiver, with the chill of pacing and waiting. Adam, you have been blessed with three young daughters and I pray for you all as you go forward.

Cheryl, Ontario

Bob Cherundolo says on August 20th, 2010 at 3:59 pm

So young. What a terrible waste. Why? My prayers go for her family and her soul.

Barbara swingle says on August 20th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

My thoughts and prayers go to Lori’s family

Sheila says on August 20th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

My deepest condolences to Lori’s family during this trying time. They are in my thoughts and prayers.
I am the same age as Lori – and had my mitral valve repaired on Nov 23rd/09. It’s been a long recovery for me due to complications, but am still ticking.
Again my heart goes to Lori’s family and friends and to the blog community.

Sheila, Victoria, BC, Canada

debbie says on August 20th, 2010 at 9:15 pm

I’m feeling so thankful right now for surviving my own operation…I can’t believe this could happen, I guess I never did face the idea that this operation has such a high risk and it makes me count my blessings….and it makes me very sad that this mom is now gone from her husband and children’s lives…i can’t imagine the shock it must be for them…but one thing I think I can say is that Lori probably felt gratification for this site and blog as it gives us a chance to ask questions and gain support going into these situations. Lori obviously felt she could share her situation and had found people who would understand.
I have no words that would say enough to her family but I do offer my sympathy and support as they face this devastating situation.

Nancy says on August 20th, 2010 at 9:43 pm

My thoughts & prayers go out to Lori’s family & friends! She will be watching over you from above..know she’s at peace! Heart surgery yes we don’t take anything for granted. My husband had mitral valve surgery in Feb.We are thankful for every day! Onceagain we are so sorry for your family’s loss! God Bless!

Joy Vera says on August 21st, 2010 at 10:32 am

There was a nice article about Lori B. in the Austin American-Statesman this morning. I’ve attached a link to the article below. If that does not work for you, just go to my heart valve journal where I’ve copied the text of the article. Clearly Lori B. was a wonderful person & a bright spirit. My sincere condolences to her family & friends.

Carol Lang says on August 21st, 2010 at 11:58 am

Mere words seem impossible to write or speak at this time of profound grief for Lori’s family. We forget that young people die every die from valvular heart disease. When something like this happens, it reminds us how precious life is. There are thousands of us who are complete strangers extending hugs out to her family. This news has simply stunned us all.

Fran says on August 21st, 2010 at 1:37 pm

For all those waiting for their surgeries you may have more questions and doubts after Lori’s very untimely death. I have to believe Lori would want you to go ahead with a brave heart and fix your valve that needs healing. We could honor her in that way. My surgery was in March and I am forever grateful for its’ success, but we know we are not guaranteed anything but we also know the odds are greatly in our favor. God bless Lori’s family.

Michael Baity says on August 21st, 2010 at 4:32 pm

What a pretty woman with her beautiful children. I did not know Lori but those of us who have had heart surgery are deeply touched by her passing. My wife died two years ago with cancer….also young. My deepest sympathy to Loris family… much as we want her back and think that everything is just not fair…thank God for the time you all had her. Bess and keep all of you and continue to be grateful for everything.

Michael Baity

Leslie Lafayette says on August 21st, 2010 at 6:58 pm

I was very sorry to read this about Lori. I am under the impression from all I have read that mitral valve repair surgery has a low mortality risk. I wonder if you can share with us what happened in Lori’s case? Did she have complications or comorbidities that would affect the outcome? Those of us who have had mitral valve surgery would appreciate any information. Thank you Adam.

Ricky says on August 21st, 2010 at 9:20 pm

I also send my prayers to Lori’s husband and children. She could be my daughter. I had mitral valve surgery 7+ years ago. I sometimes forget just how lucky I am but really know THAT I am.

We are all a family of friends brought together by you, Adam. Thank you for that. GOD is watching out for all of us, but must have had other plans for Lori. Rest in peace Lori.

Debbie says on August 22nd, 2010 at 7:59 am

Thoughts and prayers to Lori’s family. I can’t obviously comprehend what you are feeling but how somehow your memories give you comfort and knowing she is alive in her three daughters. God Bless.

Cherie' says on August 22nd, 2010 at 7:47 pm

My heart bleeds for Lori’s family. I cried when I read about your loss. I cannot imagine the pain you must be feeling. I am three weeks out from aorta and aortic valve replacement. Even though I did not know Lori, we are all a family here, brought together by OHS, a traumatic surgery that none of us in our lifetime could ever imagine that we would have to endure. We forget though that our families must endure a tremendous amount of pain watching their loved ones suffer. It sounds like Lori was an amazing woman with a wonderful family. The world will surely feel her loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

fazilat says on August 23rd, 2010 at 6:14 am

our most sincerest condolences to the family

it is so difficult but you have to be brave when you decide to go for a heart op but when we lose someone itt is the hardest .


Don Hull says on August 24th, 2010 at 11:15 am

I had the same surgery as Lori in April of 2009 and had complications, resulting in a second surgery to replace my repaired valve. I was so emotionally affected after reading about Lori’s death that I felt I shouldn’t write anything until today. I never met Lori or her family but I do express my sincere sympathy to her family at this very difficult time. May God bless you and be your strength.
Don Hull

Gladys says on August 25th, 2010 at 9:06 am

My prayers goes out to Lori’s family.I cried when I read the blog.I am so thankful and blessed,I had my mitral valve replaced on June 16Th,I’m doing very well,no problems so far,in cardic rehab now.To lori’s family,the Lord will continue to blessed you and there will be brighter days in the future.I didn’t know lori but I feel like I’ve losted a sister.

Mary Ferraro says on August 26th, 2010 at 8:08 pm

To the family and those who knew Lori, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. To those awaiting their own operation, I want to say that you would honor her memory best by not letting her tragic death in any way deter you. May we all hold Lori and her family and friends in our prayers.

Phd_nurse says on March 28th, 2011 at 5:38 pm

I never knew you personally, but I took care of you in the hospital… It is now many months since the surgery and I still think of you and your family nearly everyday. I was pregnant when I took care of you, and I guess I felt a little connected to you since we were close in age and both mothers. It hit me very hard when I saw how quickly children can loose their mother. I have never been emotional when I’ve taken care of patients. I’m normally very objective, but your story hit me very hard. I’m still not over it… Anytime I think of you or your family, I just start to feel my heart race and I cry. Your family spoke so beautifully about your character as a mother, a wife and a sister. I know you are watching over them, but I know that doesn’t always ease their pain… I just wanted you to know that we haven’t forgotten you… And i don’t think I ever will…

James says on August 13th, 2012 at 10:50 am


Lori was one of my best friends. I didn’t see this at the time of Lori’s death, but today is the 2 year anniversary of when she went into surgery, and I googled her name and found it.

I will tell you that your site was a blessing to her family and friends, even though it chronicled the most horrible of times for most of us. I remember when the traffic so overwhelmed your site that it crashed, and that you all worked hard to get it upgraded and back up for Lori’s family and friends. That was very much appreciated, since not everyone was connected to her by Facebook and your site was the best way to communicate to all those that needed updates!! Many months afterwards I even went back and read all the comments … remembering Lori again.

Your comments above are also meaningful and I am glad my friend Lori’s story touched so many people through this site who never were blessed to have known her personally. She was as beautiful a soul and spirit as a woman, and her loss is still keen to many of us. Out of grief for Lori’s death, a year ago I connected to Samantha Paul regarding the death of her daughter, Rachel Beckwith, whose death was the day before Lori’s first birthday after Lori’s death. I know that with Samantha and with Lori’s family and friends, it does help to know their stories touched people who never knew them. Such amazing people who die in such a manner, although horrible and tragic, will live long after in the hearts of those who only know them by story.

I saw the above posts of people concerned about their own surgeries and my heart goes out to those families. It is not an easy decision, and I think every patient has to make the call for themselves. Surgery can be fatal, and life is fragile. However, many people get really good outcomes and it helps them live better for many years and decades. It is not an easy decision and both avenues have their risks – including not getting surgery. I would encourage people to make that decision for themselves after consulting with the best doctors and with their families.

This week Lori’s family and closest friends will remember that her death occurred two years ago .. and we miss her still. Her husband, Adam, is doing better and their three daughters are starting to heal. I have seen pure joy in the eyes of her daughters in photos that I had not seen in a while. I think those that only knew Lori by story, though, can find comfort that even a landscape destroyed by fire and storm will, too, one day rebloom with life.


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