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AHA News: Born With a Heart Defect, 13-Year-Old Now Thrives at Dance

Three days after having a baby to her son, Anthony, Tanya Lydon was still in a healthcare facility. She thought the lengthy stay was just a little odd, but simultaneously, the physician gave no indication that anything was wrong, so she tried never to worry.

Her suspicions intensified following a nurse brought an electrocardiogram machine in to the room. These devices would gauge the electrical activity of Anthonys heart.

The device was facing Tanya, who had opted to school to understand how exactly to be an EKG technician.

Im considering it and I said, God, that doesnt look right,’ Tanya recalled. But I never did an EKG on a child. I usually did one on a grown-up, therefore i didnt think anything of it.

AHA News: Born With a Heart Defect, 13-Year-Old Now Thrives at Dance

Around midnight, a health care provider found her bedside. By that point, a nurse had taken Anthony to the neonatal intensive care unit.

The physician told Tanya that her son had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect where elements of the left side of the center, like the left ventricle and aorta, are too small. This helps it be difficult for the center to pump oxygen-rich blood to all of those other body.

Tanya and her husband, Jerry, elected to possess Anthonys heart surgically rebuilt. This might require a group of three surgeries on the next 3 years. The outcome would allow blood circulation to bypass the left side of his heart, thus increasing flow to all of those other body.

The initial surgery came inside a week of the diagnosis. The next followed when Anthony was 5 months old. Both went relatively well.

The 3rd surgery occurred when Anthony was 24 months old. As the procedure itself went smoothly, Anthony was identified as having another problem called a whole heart block. It occurs once the electrical signals that regulate the heartbeat cant pass from top of the to the low chambers of the center. This prevents the center from contracting properly, which limits the hearts capability to effectively pump blood to all of those other body.

To take care of this, doctors implanted a pacemaker. In adults, these devices is generally placed close to the collarbone. In Anthony, it had been situated in his stomach.

When he was younger, he used to call it his easy button because he was so skinny and you also could literally view it, Tanya said.

Since the surgeries, Anthony has enjoyed a mostly normal upbringing near Scranton, Pennsylvania. Now 13, his favorite activity is dance.

The passion began when he was 4. Tanya took him to a dance studio seeking some type of exercise since he couldnt play sports.

He takes two-hour lessons around three days weekly at a school where one of is own teachers is his cousin, who also is undoubtedly a Philadelphia Eagles cheerleader.

Anthony does from tap and jazz to ballet and hip-hop. His favorite type is contemporary, which he describes as a kind of dance that intertwines a tale. This season, he played Dr. Jekyll in a bit in line with the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

No stage fright here.

Our teachers say before we continue, Dont focus on individuals. Just research and do the moves and dances,’ Anthony said.

Tanya describes her son as an average 13-year-old who happens to truly have a heart condition. He loves video gaming. Hes needs to get thinking about dance for another reason, too.

Hes all in with girls. He thinks hes the coolest, she said.

Tanya knows Anthony could eventually require a transplant. At this time, though, its not on the radar.

He does his activities, he would go to school, he’s got a huge amount of friends, she said. I literally hope it stays like this.

Anthony speaks with other children who’ve his condition, although topic of conversation isnt usually the problem itself. They could discuss what activities they are able to do should they cant play sports.

He tells them to be brave and points to himself as proof that folks emerge from surgery safely.

I simply want them to learn that theyre all likely to be OK, he said.

American Heart Association News covers heart and brain health. Not absolutely all views expressed in this story reflect the state position of the American Heart Association. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. In case you have questions or comments concerning this story, please email

By Genaro C. Armas, American Heart Association News

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