My name is Rylee. I am 8 years old and a 3rd grader at North Elementary. I like sports, especially baseball, gymnastics and golf. My favorite baseball team is the Detroit Tigers! I also love animals. I want to be a vet when I grow up, and hope to have my own veterinary office someday.
When I was 6 months old, my doctor found a heart murmur during one of my regular visits. He immediately suggested we get further testing. We saw a pediatric cardiologist, who confirmed that I had a hole in my heart, a condition known as Atrial Septal Defect. This doctor wanted us to have surgery right away, but we decided to get a second opinion, since this was a scary prospect for us.
We then saw another pediatric cardiologist, who confirmed my diagnosis. He told us that sometimes these holes close on their own when a child grows, but if this did not happen by the time I turned 3 years old, I would need surgery.
Unfortunately, some blood began to accumulate in the chambers of my heart, which could cause it to become enlarged. Because of this, we decided to proceed with the surgery the summer before I entered first grade. During my surgery, they tried to implant a plastic device that would open like a balloon, but it failed twice. Instead, they implanted a metal mesh device called an AMPLATZER Septal Occluder, which is a very specialized device that is meant to close the hole and control the flow of blood through my heart.
It’s a good thing that my primary doctor recognized my heart murmur early on since I didn’t have any obvious symptoms. Now I see my cardiologist every year to get an EKG and Echocardiogram. During my last visit, they saw that my heart tissue has almost completely grown over the device, which is a very good sign! Now I am able to be healthy and active, which also means I can pursue my other passion of helping donate items to kids in need.
Because of everything I’ve been through, I enjoy raising money for the American Heart Association by participating in my school’s Jump Rope For Heart program. Thanks to my family and friends, I helped my school raise over $8,000 in 2012! This money will go toward very important research that will help other families benefit from the same advances that have helped to give me the chance at having a normal, healthy life.
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