Who is Windland Smith Rice?

May 31, 2019 | Katrina Sorensen, Research Coordinator | @katrinasorensen


If you are familiar with the Genetic Heart Rhythm Clinic at Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus, then you've probably heard of the Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory. This lab, led by Dr. Michael Ackerman, is dedicated to researching long QT syndrome, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, sudden unexplained death and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But who is the woman this lab is named after? On the anniversary of her tragic death (May 31, 2005), we would like to remember Windland Smith Rice and recognize her family's continued support to help prevent future tragedies like theirs.

Windland Smith Rice, or Wendy as her family called her, was born on January 19, 1970. She was the eldest child of Frederick W. Smith, the founder of FedEx. Wendy was a very healthy, active woman and an accomplished nature photographer.

For more than eighteen years, Wendy was misdiagnosed with a seizure disorder. Despite seeing three of the United States' leading medical institutions, her diagnosis was never changed. Tragically, Wendy died unexpectedly in her sleep of Long QT Syndrome at the age of 35.

It is with her untimely death in mind that her family gathered together and, along with the medical community and the SADS organization, have been leading efforts to create awareness and knowledge of this disease.

To learn more about Windland Smith Rice, read this beautiful letter that Wendy's family have posted on the SADS website.

Grief and loss are hard to deal with, but you are not alone. Join the Loss & Grief group to meet and support others who have experienced loss.

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Genetic Heart Rhythm Diseases blog.

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