Most little kids pass the time by playing outside and staying active. But not Emily Handt. She was born with a congenital heart defect, called a bicuspid valve. Because of that, she had to undergo open heart surgery.
"When I would run I would lose my breath faster, and I wouldn’t be able to walk up a flight of stairs without breathing heavy," says Emily. "And so, my parents took me in and they did an Echo on me and then they found that I had to have surgery."
And when all of a sudden your kid is going in for open heart surgery, it can be pretty scary.
Open heart surgery...we weren't expecting that at all," says Emily's dad, Darcie. "The night before we left for the surgery, she couldn't even get back into the house." Once Emily had the surgery, which went off without a hitch, cardiac rehab was a must. But therapists say Emily was a unique case.
"We're used to working with the older population...50's to 80's," says Cardiac Rehab Coordinator, Judy Myers.
"They helped me build my muscles up again and they helped me expand my lungs so I could work better," says Emily. "And I got out of cardiac rehab and I was able to run faster and I was able to do a lot more things."
Today she's like any other spry twelve year old, with an positive attitude that's as strong as her heart beat.
"I'm feeling great," says Emily.
Mark Charter Reporting