My name is Emma. I’m 6 years old and in kindergarten. When I was born, my parents found out that I have Down Syndrome and a very complex heart problem. I was born with a large hole in the middle of my heart, and my right ventricle was too small. To fix my heart, doctors needed to completely reconstruct the way it pumps blood.
In a typical heart, the heart pumps blood to the entire body. The blood then returns to the heart and is pumped to the lungs to receive oxygen. After that, the oxygenated blood is sent back to the heart and the cycle starts over again by pumping the blood to the various parts of the body. To get my heart to work this way, the doctors had to build a “by-pass route” which sends the blood directly to my lungs, allowing the other parts to only focus on pumping blood to the rest of my body.
It’s wonderful that my heart could be repaired, but it was a very long and difficult process. I had to have four heart surgeries to make this work the right way: at 6 months old, 1 year old, 1.5 years old and 2.5 years old. Because of this, the first 3 years of my life were very tough for me, but I always managed to surprise my parents with my resilience and I bounced back quickly from my surgeries. Now I’m doing very well. I love spending time with my family, laughing, listening to music and playing with my big brother, Luke. My family and I are glad that I’ve been to make such remarkable progress!”
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