First-grader is inspiration for Jump Rope for HeartWhen Prairie View Elementary School third- and fourth-graders held their Jump Rope for Heart May 6, they had a special ambassador – a first-grader who was born with a heart defect.
HAGER CITY - When Prairie View Elementary School third- and fourth-graders held their Jump Rope for Heart May 6, they had a special ambassador – a first-grader who was born with a heart defect.
The event raised $2,551 for a charity, the American Heart Association. But the students jumped in honor of a little girl, Savanna Stephens.
Here is Savanna’s story as told by her mother, Brenda Stephens:
Savanna suffered from multiple respiratory infections throughout her first two years of life. When she was a one-year-old, she was diagnosed with asthma, but despite treatment, her symptoms did not improve.
At age two Savanna was seen in the emergency department at Fairview Red Wing Medical Center for respiratory symptoms. There the on-call pediatrician diagnosed a heart defect and referred her to a cardiologist.
The cardiologist confirmed that Savanna had been born with an atrial-septal defect. This defect is basically a hole in between the two sides of the heart, which causes the heart to work extra hard to be effective and also results in fluid buildup around the heart and lungs, which in turn leads to the multiple respiratory infections Savanna endured.
Savanna underwent open heart surgery at the University of Minnesota Fairview in June of 2006 to correct the defect. Within weeks of the surgery, Savanna's parents noticed an increase in her energy, and her respiratory symptoms were no longer an issue. Savanna no longer showed any signs of asthma and was able to keep up physically with her friends.
In the years since Savanna's surgery, the only complication she has encountered was the need for the placement of a cardiac stent to help ensure one of the main veins leading from her heart could continue to work effectively. Savanna's cardiologist says she may need to have this stent dilated later in life as well.
But thanks to medical intervention, Savanna is a healthy, happy first-grader!