Brian first saw his wife-to-be, Leighanne Wallace, in 1997 when she was selected to be in the Backstreet Boys video “As Long As You Love Me”. They were married in September 2000, and in November 2002, Baylee Thomas Littrell was born. Leighanne was with Brian when he was told heart surgery was necessary, and she found herself having to take a stand when he started delaying the date to have it done.

I remember the first time I ever heard Brian’s heart. We were in London, and I put my head on his chest. His heart sounded horrible – it was a whooshing sound. I looked at him and said , “This is your heart? This is what you’ve been living with?” It was an eerie feeling knowing that he had a serious heart defect.
There comes a point when I think you have to put your foot down and insist that the people you love get the medical care they need. I knew Brian wasn’t going to get the surgery done for a while, and when he and his managers put off twice because of touring, I said “You know, you have to do this or I can’t be your girlfriend anymore.” I could see him just putting his life on the line all the time for work. I told him I couldn’t be involved with him anymore if he continued to do that.
It was tough for Brian to take the time away from his schedule, but sometimes when you’re in a group, you have to insist and say “Stop everything.Stop the production.” I know he didn’t want to tell the management he had to stop for a while because of the Backstreet Boys were just huge, and it was one of the biggest tours ever. He didn”t want to do it, but ultimately he knew he was going to have to stand up and stay, ” I have to face reality and I have to have this done.”
I have this advice for any heart patient’s family : Be the most positive you can be. Ask questions – ask every question you can imagine, even if you think it’s stupid. If you’re going to break up and cry, go out of the room, do it, get yourself together, and then go back in. For patients, try to be in the best health you can be before surgery. These days, open-heart surgery is done every single day. Trust your doctor, because if you don’t, there’s no point in going any further. But also remember that your doctor is not God. So if you don’t trust him or like him, keep looking. You want a doctor who’s sensitive. You don’t want somebody who treats you like number.

From the book “Taking On Heart Disease” by Larry King.
Published in 2004.

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