Kenzie, a Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome Warrior

At three in the morning on November 12, 2009, we headed to the hospital, anxiously waiting for the arrival of our baby girl. The nursery was ready, and the closet was stocked with ruffles and bows. At 2:22 in the afternoon, our beautiful baby girl was born. Kenzie weighed 5 lbs 10 oz. She was 19 inches long with red ringlets and green eyes. She was perfect. Family came and went. Pictures were taken, and congratulations were exchanged. It took Dad twenty minutes to change Kenzie's first diaper. (Something we still laugh about today.) Laughter and joy were exchanged throughout the evening. After everyone left, we noticed Kenzie's lips and feet were turning purple. Naively, I bundled her up in another blanket and cuddled her close. The night nurse came in to take her to the nursery, and we anxiously waited for morning to come to take our baby girl home. 

By morning, it became apparent that something was wrong. Before long, we were told that a medical flight was coming to fly our brand-new baby girl to Children's Mercy Hospital. Our joy quickly turned to disbelief. Once at Children's Mercy Hospital, we were ushered into the "little room" no one wants to enter. There, we learned that our daughter was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). The left side of her heart had never formed, and she would need a series of three open-heart surgeries to survive. Instantly, fear overcame the disbelief. "How? Why? What if?" These questions didn't have time to be answered. Kenzie underwent her first open heart surgery at five days old, the second at eight months old, and the third at three years old. Kenzie has had numerous doctor appointments and outpatient procedures over the years. She has never let her heart defect stop her or define her. She has participated in t-ball, basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, and dance. Fear transformed into hope.

Today, Kenzie is a typical 13-year-old who loves animals and can often be found listening to Taylor Swift, hanging out with her friends, or playing with her two German Shepherds. Kenzie is counting down the days until she gets her learner's permit and can drive. Kenzie has many plans for her future. She wants to travel and hopes to one day own her own business. Outside of daily medication, it is easy to forget that HLHS is a continuous battle. Kenzie's Cardiac Surgeon once explained that HLHS is a marathon. Hurdles will always need to be crossed. When those hurdles come, we will cross them together with hearts full of hope. 

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