By Jessica Robb
We are delighted to present these stories, but please appreciate that some names may have been changed at the request of parents, teachers, or the kids themselves.
At the age of 8 years old, Stephanie was diagnose with a very rare heart birth defect. Anomalous Left Coronary Arising out of the Pulmonary Artery (ALCAPA) is a problem that occurs when the baby's heart is developing during early pregnancy. The developing blood vessel to the heart muscle does not attach correctly. This results in the heart muscle not getting enough oxygen, and the tissue begins to die due to the lack of oxygen. The result is often a heart attack in the baby.
Most babies diagnosed with ALCAPA don't live past their first year, but instead Stephanie thrived! It wasn't until she was 8 years old that the heart defect was discovered by chance. Having always been asymptomatic, a bout of pneumonia with a repeat chest x-ray revealed the condition. She underwent open-heart surgery at just 8 years old to correct it, and is now the proud owner of a surgery scar right above her heart.
What's most inspiring when you meet Stephanie is her bright spirit. Stephanie sees her surgery scar as a reminder that she is not only a survivor, but lucky to be alive. Meeting Stephanie was a wonderful experience. She's proof that nothing should stop us from enjoying what we love to do, and that our experiences (good or bad) make us who we are.
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