Meet WSA Kids With Heart

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Kids With Heart is a program that recognizes young local heart and stroke survivors who serve as ambassadors for the American Heart Association and inspiration for us all. Through sharing their story and encouraging others to support Jump Rope and Hoops For Heart, they are helping the American Heart Association build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

AlaskaArizonaCaliforniaHawaiiIdahoMontanaNevadaOregonUtahWashington

Alaska

Otto Xavier OlsonMy name is Otto Xavier Olson and I am 6 years old. I was born with a CHD called Supra TAPVR. I was diagnosed hours after birth. I had a life saving open heart surgery when I was 18 hours old. I was in the hospital for the first two weeks of my life. I am now heart healthy and just like other 6 year olds my age I enjoy school, playing with my friends, boy scouts and riding my bicycle. I had to see my pediatric cardiologist weekly then monthly and then yearly until I was 2 years old and then I was given the all clear for two year visits. I have to eat a healthy diet full of fruits and veggies and heart healthy fats. I drink a lot of water and stay active to keep my special heart strong and healthy. I stay involved in CHD awareness by telling others about my story. I participate in the heart walk and the jump rope for heart to help raise awareness and support for CHD research so I can help other children and families of children born with broken hearts like me.


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Arizona

Brooke MehlbergBrooke and her twin sister were born on June 5, 2008. After only being a day old, the hospital pediatrician came into our room to do their evaluation on the twins and noticed Brooke had a murmur. The next morning, she was undergoing tests and echos and her VSD (Ventrical Septal Defect) came to light. She wasn't even 2 days old! The cardiologist at the hospital indicated that it would be wise for us to follow up with Children s Hospital. One month after we were released from the hospital we had our first follow up appointment with the cardiologist. He indicated that the hole in Brooke's heart was not closing and surgery would be inevitable. Brooke was not  gaining the weight or growing at the rate that her twin sister Averi was, so the doctors were concerned that her condition was starting to alter her growth and progressions.

On November 25, 2008, Brooke was checked into Phoenix Children's Hospital to have her open heart surgery performed. After 5 long hours, the doctors indicated that she was out of surgery and in recovery. Brooke is a fighter and was trying everything in her power to remove her own lines (at just 5 months old!). The doctors even mentioned during their rounds that they had never seen an infant recover from surgery so fast. We spend that Thanksgiving in the hospital with her and she was released the day after Thanksgiving.

Today she is a fun filled, vibrant 7 year old. She enjoys gymnastics and playing on an all girls football team, with absolutely no restrictions. She does have to continue with her yearly check-ups, but so far has been good!


California

Bailey BeasleyMy name is Bailey and I am 8 years old. I live with my mommy, daddy and two dogs. I was born two months early, because my heart stopped beating. When I was two months old I had a very bad seizure and the doctors found that I had tachycardia and a hole in my heart. I spent a week in the hospital and then when I got out I started to go to Children's hospital in Oakland CA.

The doctor told me that my heart beats faster than others. When I was 4 years old my heart doctor cleared me and told me to come visit him if I started to feel bad again. I know I am lucky because I know things could have been worse. With my many visits to the doctor's office I see many children who had to have surgery and go though many struggles and always have a smile in their faces.

When I was 5 almost 6, my mom had a stroke. I called 911 because she told me to. I was not scared because I knew the doctors would make her better like they made me better and they did. Now I am 8 almost 9 and my mom has 65% use of her leg and arm now. I am just grateful for every day we are all here in this earth. I know life is special and we all must say how much we all mean to each other because you never know what can happen. I think through all of the ups and downs, what I learned the most is just be kind to each other and smile because it could be worse. I appreciate that I can run with my dogs and friends and that my mommy is still here. My wish for the children who go through heart issues is, to stay strong and just breathe. Enjoy every day you have because life is short and we all need to make memories.


Hawaii

Ihilani HatoriMy name is Ihilani Hatori but my family calls me Bonkie. I live with my mom, dad, 2 brothers and 2 sisters in Mt. View, Hawaii. My heart needs checking up once every month to be sure it is working right. On August 17, 2011, my sister passed away from a heart problem. At the time, we didn't know why she passed and doctors couldn't find any reason in the autopsies, so they said, her heart stopped working. She was healthy, funny, loving and the best sister ever. She took care of me, played with me and made me laugh. I love and miss my sister Michiko Hatori. This year on April 6, she would have been 22 years old. After all this, we all got tested and found out that my 2 brothers and I have the same problem with our hearts but less severe. My older brother who is going to be 13 soon needs to check up a little bit more than my other brother and I, but doctor said he is doing fine and is able to play sports. In fact, we all are. My 2 brothers play football and baseball and I am a cheerleader. My other two sisters do not have any problems with their hearts and they cheer too. My mom knows how important it is to check up and be sure that our hearts are functioning great. She does not want to lose any of us anymore and I am happy to have a mom who cares for us as she does. She is the best and she knows that our lives count.


Idaho

Stay tuned for more Kids With Heart stories


Montana

Colter CrossColter Cross was born on November 17, 2011. He was taken home 24 hours after he was born, he had passed all of the health screenings and was a healthy baby boy. Unfortunately, the hospital had neglected to complete Pulse Oximetry Screening.

Three days later at his first checkup the doctor heard a very loud murmur and chose to check his oxygen levels, which were bad. A normal baby should be above 95% and Colter was at 75%. He immediately made arrangements for us to see a cardiologist. Five hours later Colter's parents received the most terrifying news they have ever heard in their lives. Colter was diagnosed with a severe and rare critical congenital heart defect called Truncus Arteriosus. Without surgery to repair his defect he would die.

At eleven days old Colter underwent open heart surgery at Seattle Children's Hospital that was supposed to take 6-8 hours but, because Colter had suffered a cardiac arrest, it wasn't until fourteen hours later that Colter was stabilized. However he was still surviving minute to minute. During the next two weeks, Colter was barely surviving facing infections and last ditch efforts by the doctors.

Luckily, by the grace of medical research, Colter began to improve and was discharged from the Children's Intensive Care Unit. He remained in the hospital for another month on antibiotic treatment. When Colter was finally able to go home, he had a feeding tube, full-time oxygen and a long road to recovery. His cardiologist said if he didn't improve a heart transplant would be needed.

Happily, Colter is thriving today! He is as crazy as any other two-year old and just recently became medication free. Colter will need at least 3 more open heart surgeries, numerous catheters and constant monitoring throughout his life. His family doesn't worry about the future and enjoys today and the moments we have right now knowing that through research and medicine, Colter can and will have a healthy quality of life. Please help spread the word that nearly 1 out of every 100 births a baby is born with some form of heart disease. Heart disease is the #1 killer of our babies, not to mention that babies are twice more likely to die of a heart disease than all forms of childhood cancer. Heart disease doesn't discriminate; ask for your baby’s oxygen levels to be checked before you leave the hospital. Know the signs--if your baby has a bluish tint to the skin, fingernails or lips, fast breathing, poor feeding, poor weight gain, fatigue, poor circulation and excessive sweating--those are all signs of a possible heart defect.


Nevada

Brody CongiolosoMy name is Brody and I am 11 years old. I was born in 2004 and the doctors told my mom when I was 10 days old that I had pulmonary stenosis and aortic insufficiency. My mom was already a "heart mom" because my brother (Dakota - 13) also has pulmonary stenosis. When I was 4 months old I had to have a cardiac catheterization, followed by emergency-open heart surgery. Since then I have had to have 4 more cardiac catheterizations and last year on March 13, 2015 I had another open-heart surgery to replace my aortic valve. It was really scary for me because I was afraid I would die. I had some anxiety for a few weeks before surgery and stayed home to be close to my mom. After surgery I stopped breathing and gave all the doctors a big scare, but they were great and saved my life. Five days after surgery I went home and I've been recovering well ever since. Just last week I saw my doctor again and he said my heart is perfect and he took me off the aspirin and blood pressure medicine. He even let me go for a ride on a roller coaster that I really wanted to ride! I will have to have more surgery in the future, but it really scares me to think about it so I try not to. I don't want other kids to be scared or to hurt or get pokes or have to have their heart opened up. My mom works with the AHA here in Las Vegas and I like to talk to people and tell them if they help the AHA, they're really helping kids like me. My heart is broken, but it's still beating and I'm pretty tough because of what I've been through!


Oregon

Sutton HaggrenMy name is Sutton Haggren, and I am five years old. My heart defect was detected in utero, and so I was carefully monitored throughout my mom's pregnancy to measure the growth of my heart. The doctors thought I had hypoplastic left heart syndrome and would need at least three open heart surgeries. When I was born, I was taken straight to ICU, where I was closely watched. I didn't show any signs of distress and my heart was working for the time being. When I was 8 days old I had my first heart catheter, and the surgeon could see exactly what needed to be fixed. My aortic arch was too narrow, and needed to be opened up and a patch put in. I started to get very sick in the next few days, and it was obvious to my doctors I needed open heart surgery soon. When I was 14 days old, I was wheeled away to surgery, and after about 8 hours of surgery my parents finally got to see me, with my new scar that I will have forever. Surgery isn't a cure, it is only a fix. I see a cardiologist every year now and I have developed two other issues, a sub aortic membrane and my aortic arch has started to re narrow again. I will need at least two more surgeries. I know that I have to take special care of myself and be especially heart healthy. I try to eat better and I love to run! I do have restrictions, I can't lift heavy things, and I won't ever be able to wrestle. My scar doesn't define me, I love all sports, and my hip hop class, and I love kindergarten. This was my first year doing Jump Rope for Heart, and it made me feel special. Heart defects are the number one birth defect, but not many people know much about them. I want everyone to know that I am the same as all other kids, just with a cool scar!


Utah

Lucas RowburyMy name is Lucas. I am the oldest of 5 kids, I have 3 brothers and 1 sister. I love Legos, reading and playing basketball with my friends. When I was born I immediately turned blue. It was determined that I would be flown to Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake from Rexburg, Idaho (where I was born). At PCMC the doctors told my parents that I had Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA). At 6 days old I had open heart surgery, an arterial switch, to fix my heart. I was in the hospital for almost a month. I went home and had a feeding tube, a picc line and was on lots of medicines. I am really lucky, I haven't had to have more than one surgery. I see a doctor every other year and have to be careful about which sports I play. I love having a "zipper scar" to show everyone!


Washington

Ava WyzykowskiMy name is Ava Wyzykowski and I am 7 years old. I was born on November 18th 2008. During my first night I stopped breathing and my heart rate dropped really low. This happened several timesthroughout the night. The morning of the 19th I was taken by the panda care team ambulance crew to legacy Emanuel in Portland, Or. I spent three days in the NICU having several more episodes where I stopped breathing. The doctors never could figure out what was wrong with my heart. All they could tell my mom and dad was that they thought here was a problem with one of my heart valves. After 3 days I stopped having any problems and as sent home. I haven't had any problems with my heart since then. My parents have told me about the other babies they saw in the NICU who had heart problems and needed surgeries. I would like to help raise money to help make their hearts better.




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