Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day
By: Wendy Ray

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO --Everyone thinks about matters of the heart on Valentine's Day, but

a Jackson, MO girl brings a whole new meaning to the day of love and she's getting some special attention for it. Four year old Sarah Tipton's in Jefferson City, Missouri, where MO State Representative Nathan Cooper is naming it Congenital Heart Defect Awareness day in her honor.

Sarah is always happy, even when she's in a doctor's office. Sarah's gotten used to going to the doctor. She was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital heart defect. "It's basically a malformation of the left side of the heart," Sarah's dad Darrin says. "Two chambers did not develop right and there were external problems. The aorta was small and there were problems with the valves in her heart."

Sarah had her first heart surgery when she was one week old, her second surgery was six months later. Sarah will have her third surgery in two months just weeks after her fifth birthday. "This will be the final stage of reconstruction surgery. Originally it was designed to be a set of surgeries that will hold a child over until they can get a heart donor. Over the years the surgeries have become more successful than transplants," Darrin says.

It's a lot to think and worry about, but Darrin and Beth Tipton focus on the good things in Sarah's life. "Has she had any fevers? Any aches and pains," Dr. Beverly Brown asks Sarah's mom. "No," Sarah's mom answers. Great news to get before a big trip. When we met with Sarah Friday she could barely wait to go to Jefferson City. At the young age of four, Sarah's making an impact on raising awareness about heart defects. "Representative Cooper has introduced a resolution to the Missouri House declaring Valentine's Day Congenital Heart Defect Awareness day in Missouri," Darrin says.

Sarah was scheduled to be introduced to the Missouri House late Monday afternoon.