Meet Jessica Landau! Jes is an Executive Director and Founding Leader at ONEHOPE Wine, a boutique wine delivery service that dedicates a portion of the sale of each bottle to supporting a nonprofit. The world-class vineyard in Napa Valley makes a positive impact on the world – and has raised more than $5 million to date worldwide for causes.
Jes is also a caring wife, mother, and a graduate from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Most importantly to us, she’s been one of ForHearts Worldwide supporters for years.
Not only is Jes an important part of our family as a donor, but also as someone who truly understands our mission as she is also a pacemaker patient.
One of Jes’ earliest memories is walking on a treadmill while wearing diapers with wires strapped to her body. She was only 2 years old. She didn’t know it, but when she kept complaining that her tummy was hurting – it was actually her heart. She was walking on the treadmill so that her doctors could monitor her heart rhythm. Chickenpox, combined with an aggressive flu, damaged her heart forever. Her parents didn’t realize it right away either. Jes would eventually need a pacemaker to survive.
By the age of ten, Jes finally got implanted with her very first device. Her resting heart rate was only 34 beats per minute. Without her surgery, she surely would have died. Thankfully, her family was able to provide and afford her care – they lived in a nice home in Colorado, close to the best hospitals and medical care she needed.
“That’s why the work of ForHearts Worldwide is so close to my heart,” says Jes. “I was lucky enough to have a family and be born in a situation where they could afford to save my life, over and over again. But not everyone in the world has that privilege. And they don’t deserve to die.”
After receiving her first pacemaker, Jes’ love for sports and activities flourished. She joined the girls’ soccer team in high school. When she was 16 years old, she found herself having a hard time keeping up on the field with her fellow teammates.
“I had no energy,” she said, “I didn’t feel like I could run anymore.”
A trip to the cardiologist revealed that Jes’ pacemaker was on backup mode – with the battery nearly depleted. With less than two weeks before it would stop functioning completely, they scheduled her for emergency surgery immediately. For a second time, her life was saved.
Later that year, her pacemaker dislodged and fell into her armpit. Once again, Jes was scheduled for emergency surgery, but then less than one year after that, there was a recall on her pacemaker.
At 18, Jes was yet again scheduled for an emergency procedure to replace the recalled device. “Unfortunately, the medical team performing my pacemaker surgery made a little mistake – they accidentally punctured my lung,” Jes explains. “Not only was my heart rate down to 17 beats per minute, but I was getting 25% less oxygen into my body.”
After a string of emergency procedures that lasted most of her childhood, Jes was finally on the mend. In 2002, she was accepted into college at Savannah College of Art and Design to play soccer. At 19, Jes was thriving. One day, her chest started hurting very badly and she couldn’t lift her left arm. After visiting the hospital, she learned that her chest muscle had become detached, and was scheduled for another emergency procedure.
Fast forward to 2020, Jes has had the same pacemaker since she was 28, and has a good two years left on it.
“I know what it’s like to be afraid to die. I’ve experienced it so many times in my life. But my parents were able to help me. It’s like I won the lottery – they could afford it, and I was always fine. But not everyone in the world is as lucky as me – and that’s why I dedicate my life to supporting causes that make an impact on people’s lives. The work that ForHearts does is truly amazing, and it means the world to me to be able to help them save lives.”