Amy Grant underwent open-heart surgery on June 3 for a rare condition she's had since birth

By Claudia Harmata
August 13, 2020 12:45 PM
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Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty

Amy Grant didn't find out about her rare genetic birth defect until this past February when her husband's doctor happened to ask her how she was doing.

In a new interview with Good Morning Americathe Grammy Award-winning singer, 59, revealed that she first learned she had PAPVR (partial anomalous pulmonary venous return) after attending a routine check-up for her husband, country music star Vince Gill.

"I had an irregular heartbeat for the last 10 years, and it exhibited every day," Grant explained. "It bothered me a little bit and then I've had a harder time singing in the last five years ... everything kind of tightening up as I was trying to sing. I remember a couple times telling Vince, 'I feel like I'm suffocating.' It's the weirdest thing, I'm breathing as deep as I can, but in my mind, none of that had to do with my heart."

Gill's cardiologist, Dr. John Bright Cage, asked Grant about her health and then encouraged her to undergo tests, which ultimately showed she had PAPVR, which is when "one or two of the pulmonary veins returns blood to the right atrium instead of the left atrium," according to UW Health.

After the discovery, doctors told Grant she needed to undergo surgery as soon as possible.

"They were doing an ultrasound of my heart and the doctor came in. He said, 'Vince, this is the kind of situation where Amy would be fine, fine, fine and then one day it would be catastrophic,' " Grant recalled. "And we don't know when that would be, but it would have been sooner rather than later."

Grant, who had open-heart surgery on June 3 to fix the condition, said she's grateful that Dr. Cage was able to detect it before it was too late.

Amy Grant
| Credit: Amy Grant/Instagram

"I just think sometimes in all of our jobs, we have what we're trained for, and then beyond that, there's an intuition and inspiration," Grant said. "And I think Dr. Cage did everything that was required for testing for what he thought might be an issue for me because my father had [heart bypass] surgery, but beyond that, I don't [know]."

"I am so grateful," she added.

Grant shared images on Instagram of her post-surgery scars in mid-June, updating her fans on her "miraculous" recovery. She also likened her ordeal to being "a non-runner who was signed up for a marathon."

"I didn’t want it, but I had to have it anyway and it was a week ago Wednesday," she shared at the time. "And as people heard about the surgery I started getting messages: 'I’m praying for you' …'I’m praying for you'. People I worked with decades ago, people who have come to my concerts or listen to my music, my work family, people on social media, and my own friends and family all offered their prayers."

"And so I want to say thank you to each person who said a prayer for me," Grant added. "Prayer changes everything. Let’s keep those prayers going for our country and lets turn all the brokenness into love and seeing each other. I love you."

Now, the star hopes her experience will encourage others to reflect and take care of themselves.

"If I have got something wrong, anybody could have something wrong," she said. "My message would be, take a minute and take care of yourself. You don't know that something is wrong unless you make sure it's right."