Mommy and Kennedy

Steve and Kennedy

Mrs. Steve Cunningham Interview: My Daughter Needs A Heart Transplant ASAP

By Robert Brizel, Head RCM Boxing Correspondent

In a Real Combat Media international exclusive international by telephone from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Livvy Cunningham, the wife of former world cruiserweight champion and heavyweight contender Steve Cunningham, explained the medical situation she and her husband Steve are in with their ill daughter Kennedy Cunningham, and the reasoning behind their fundraising in anticipation of their daughter’s pending heart transplant in Pittsburgh.

The Cunninghams have three children. Steve Jr. is 11 years old, Kennedy is eight years old, and Cruz is three years old. Kennedy was born with a heart defect necessitating an immediate heart transplant to save her life. Real Combat Media was in touch with top boxing publicist Marc Abrams, who is also working to assist the Cunningham family.

Real Combat Media: “What is the present situation with your daughter Kennedy?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “My daughter was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. The left side of the heart is underdeveloped, and unable to function, so she’s basically functioning with half a heart.”

Real Combat Media: “How did this affect Kennedy’s childhood?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “The heart defect was detected by ultrasound in the womb. Kennedy had two open heart surgeries. One at two days old, and one at six months old. (After that) She had a pretty normal childhood.”

Real Combat Media: “When did things get to the present situation requiring an immediate heart transplant to save Kennedy’s life?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “At the end of last year (2013), things began to take a toll. Her oxygen levels are much lower, so at times she does require oxygen tanks (to breathe). She gets tired rather easily.”

Real Combat Media: “Do you have health insurance for your family? What will it cover and what won’t it cover for Kennedy?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “We have health insurance, but we live in Philadelphia. We need to travel back and forth to Pittsburgh for medical treatment at Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.”

Real Combat Media: “How soon does Kennedy need her heart transplant? How pressed are you and Steve for time to save your daughter’s life?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “Kennedy needs a heart transplant now. She’s listed (in the heart transplant database in the United States), which is very regulated. The donor heart can come at any time.”

Real Combat Media: “How are you holding up, under the circumstances?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “Kennedy is right next to me, right now. Without a heart transplant, her heart cannot stay the way it is. We chose not to be frightened by it, we take every day as it comes. There’s really no answer.”

Real Combat Media: “What are the financial issues you and Steve are facing?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “The heart transplant is covered by insurance. The money we are raising now will go towards our long term travel expenses, and the costs of staying in Pittsburgh. Kennedy will have to stay in Pittsburgh for at least six months after the transplant surgery. We will need a living arrangement for our family and Kennedy with medical accommodations) during her recovery period.”

Real Combat Media: “How has Kennedy’s schooling progressed during her illness?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “Kennedy missed the last two months of school this year in Philadelphia. The home school teachers came to the house, which was great.”

Real Combat Media: “How did the fundraising for Kennedy come about?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “People reached out and asked if they could help. After (an initial medical evaluation in) Pittsburgh, we got Kennedy a second opinion, we got Kennedy listed for a heart transplant, and we realized this (whole process) was going to cost a lot of money.”

Real Combat Media: “How and where can people donate?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “People can donate there. They can also contact me and Steve at our email.”

Real Combat Media: “Your husband, Steve Cunningham, remains one of the finest heavyweight fighters in the world, and a great gentleman and ambassador of the sport of boxing. How has he been taking life since Kennedy’s situation required the heart transplant?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “Steve is always in the gym. Steve is strong in the gym. Steve’s great. We’re just doing what we have to do for our family.”

Real Combat Media: “Is the time factor critical for Kennedy?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “Yes. We need the transplant. She’s listed and it is going to happen regardless. The fundraising (online) will help us (the Cunningham family to) get there (move to Pittsburgh after the heart transplant) and back, be more comfortable, be able to stay with Kennedy and stay in a clean place, where she can rest and get better.”

Real Combat Media: “Any heart transplant carries a significant risk regarding the outcome (of the operation). What is the long term prognosis for a child like your daughter Kennedy who receives a heart transplant?”

Mrs. Cunningham: “They (the doctors tell us) say for someone her age a heart transplant will last 12 to 15 years. She would be tested again at that time (for a new heart transplant, when she is older). Absolutely.”

Reader’s note: At the site, Steve and Livvy Cunningham have raised close to $6000 of the $25,000 estimated they will require for travel and living expenses/ 88 days remain for the fundraising effort, hopefully within that time frame, Kennedy will live to see her heart transplant, and will live many more years to come.




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