Nine-year-old Alyssa Young can run and swim, and she’s happy about it.
Those are things the third grader at Midway Elementary School couldn’t do until recently, after undergoing open heart surgery at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville to repair a hole in her heart.
Last month, students and teachers at Midway celebrated heart month and Young’s successful recovery from heart surgery. Students made cards for Alyssa and the school hallways were decorated with hearts and posters.
“I have a lot of friends (at school),” Alyssa Young says.
“Midway Elementary is an amazing school who really cares for their students. They went above and beyond to make Alyssa feel loved,” agrees her mother, Samantha Young.
Alyssa feels “better” after her surgery and has more energy, she told The Times
last week. Before the hole in her heart was repaired, Alyssa suffered from chronic pneumonia and asthma — she had pneumonia seven times last year.
“She hasn’t had any breathing problems since we had the surgery,” says S. Young. “We have not had the first bit of pneumonia.”
S. Young expects her daughter will soon leave the inhaler prescribed for her asthma behind, too.
Alyssa will put her fixed heart to good use when she grows up. She’s bound to be somebody’s hero with her top three career aspirations — a police officer (like her dad), a veterinarian or a swimming instructor.
Alyssa was born with a hole in her heart, but it wasn’t detected until last year during an echocardiogram. She was scheduled for surgery in March 2020, but the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic kept delaying the procedure. She underwent surgery in August and was in the hospital for five days.
Alyssa and her family are thankful her heart defect was found so soon, before her heart grew any sicker.
“Her heart was pretty sick … it had enlarged due to overworking,” S. Young explains.
Alyssa is the oldest daughter of Kelly and Samantha Young. She has a three-year-old sister, Addison, and her favorite school subject is social studies.