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Dedman College Student Has Heart for Kids Battling Heart Defects


Originally Posted: November 25, 2017

Jeffrey Kelley is a healthy SMU English and sociology major. He plays symbols in the SMU Mustang band. But, he was born with a congenital heart defect and had his first surgery at six weeks old. He was homeschooled and had limited physical activity until he had another surgery at age 16. Jeffrey’s dad sent three e-mails to friends suggesting they send cards to his son after his surgery. To Jeffrey’s surprise, and embarrassment, he received more than 1,000 cards. Jeffrey is a person who would much rather be the card-sender than the card-receiver, so he turned this avalanche of support into a foundation to help other kids with congenital heart defects, Jeffrey has Heart.  In just two years, the foundation has raised more than $30,000 and is in the process of helping their 10th child with CHD. Most recently, he reached out the family of a Houston child waiting for a heart transplant. They were told if they left Houston during Hurricane Harvey and a heart became available, their son would go to the bottom of the waiting list. Jeffrey’s foundation shared food and gas gift cards to help them make it in Houston during that disaster.

Now Jeffrey is strong enough to take part in grueling marching band practices, live on the SMU campus and carry a full load of classes. Watch