My name is Alicia. I am 8 years old and in 3rd grade.
When I was around six hours old, I began breathing funny and turning blue. I was flown by helicopter from a local community hospital to the University of Chicago Children's Hospital. There, doctors discovered that I was born with eight complex and critical Congenital Heart Defects.
At three days old, I had my first heart surgery, called a Modified BT Shunt, with some reconstructive work as well. My case was then transferred to Dr. Ilbawi, a specialist at Hope Children's Hospital. I had three more surgeries before I was two years old.
Now I see a cardiologist for regular checkups twice a year, along with routine maintenance and care. My heart is considered to be what is called a “post-Fontan double-inlet single ventricle, with a leaky valve.”
This is a lot for a kid to understand, but it’s a reminder that each beat of any heart, no matter how big or small, is a blessing. My parents enjoy my feisty and intense personality, along with the compassion and understanding I have gained from my experiences. I am very observant of what is going on around me, and I’m always eager to express my opinions about it. I remain social and energetic, and you'd never know by looking at me that I currently have a heart condition. My parents and I consider my life a gift!