15 year old Shelby Givens is just like any other teenager, but beneath the surface, the Marion County High School student's heart beats to a much different rhythm. It all started with a trip to the pediatrician when she was just 4.
Shelby Givens, Heart Disease Survivor says "I remember going to the doctor and the doctor telling my mom what was wrong with me and her crying and being upset and I asked her what was wrong"
Shelby was diagnosed with heart disease. She had multiple holes in her heart.
Misty Givens, Shelby's Mom says "Your first response is denial, they've made a mistake, this can't possibly be, heart disease and heart problems are for older people."
That may be what a lot of people think, but that's not the case at all, each year approximately 40,000 babies are born in this country with a congenital heart defect.
Heart disease is difficult enough when it strikes adults, but it can be especially tough and even tragic when it comes to children. By the age of 6 Shelby had underwent open heart surgery, suffered a stroke, and endured months of physical therapy and rehabilitation.
Misty Givens says "Some of the toughest things were the helplessness you feel as a parent watching your child have to be constantly poked and prodded."
But today, Shelby is doing much better.
Shelby Givens says "I just live a healthy lifestyle as normal as I can be."
Shelby says she is now an outspoken advocate for heart disease and stroke, supporting the American Heart Association's mission through events like the annual Go Red For Women Luncheon that raises awareness and funds.
Shelby Givens says "The AHA is basically the reason I am alive if they wouldn't have done the research and looked into it as much as they did the surgery that saved my life wouldn't have been created."
With your help, thanks to advancement in research and treatment through the American Heart Association children like Shelby who most likely wouldn't have reached their first birthday now have hope for a bright future.