The fight against heart disease - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

The fight against heart disease

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MARION COUNTY, TN (WRCB) - I guess you could say that 8-year-old Katie Bracken has a special heart.. and she certainly has a reason to dance, and that's why her classmates at Whitwell Elementary School wore red to support her fight against heart disease.  

Tonya Bracken, Katie's Mom says "It was a scary time."

During a routine ultrasound visit, the doctor gave Tonya and her husband some grim news.  Their bundle of joy growing inside had a heart defect,known as Hypoplastic, left heart syndrome,.. and the outlook wasn't good.  They were given three options, and Tonya says the choice for them was crystal clear.

Tonya Bracken says "For us there was only one choice and it was to fight for her, so that's what we did and I think it worked out just great "

But getting to this point wasn't easy. Katie had three surgeries and several complications by the time she was just three years old.
Unfortunately Katie is not alone, and her story isn't uncommon.
    *Congenital heart defects are the number #1 birth defect in the United States
      *Nearly one of every 100 babies is born with a CHD
     *Thousands of them will not reach their first birthday and thousands more die before they reach adulthood

That's why Tonya says the work of the American Heart Association is so important.

Tonya Bracken says "With that money I think it is important it goes toward research to help find new ways to help kids with special hearts."

Today there is better testing and detection for heart defects, so babies are born with a greater chance at a normal and healthy life.

Katie likes to run and play like any other child, but she does have certain limitations.

Tonya Bracken says "She just has to take a little bit of a break, I guess our biggest fight she gets migraines."

Tonya knows it could be much worse. That's why she doesn't take anything for granted.

Tonya Bracken says "We hope to see her grow up, get married, have a family of her own if her dad lets her. (Katie) "That's not going to happen."

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