Sydney’s spirit helped her battle back from a hidden heart defect



As a toddler, Sydney’s parents used to call her the “I-do-it kid.” That was because Sydney, who always wanted to do everything by herself, was known for protesting her parents’ efforts to help by saying, “I do it!”  

With her spunky and determined spirit, Sydney always seemed completely healthy.  But shortly after she turned 3, her parents noticed a change in their daughter. Sydney seemed fatigued, and she stopped wanting to play with friends or ride her bike. At times, she even struggled to find the energy to walk.

Then one day, Sydney developed a severe fever. Her pediatrician detected a heart murmur and referred the family to Children’s Hospital Colorado.   

A shocking discovery

It was initially thought that Sydney might be suffering from some sort of viral heart infection. But with state-of-the-art technology and imaging, it was ultimately determined that Sydney was suffering from something far more serious. Doctors discovered a congenital heart defect that had remained hidden since birth: Sydney was born without a left coronary artery.

After doctors and her family evaluated treatment options, Sydney was scheduled for open heart surgery two months before her fourth birthday. Stacie knew her daughter was in good hands, but she still described the day of the surgery as “terrifying.”

“You’re handing your child over to these doctors and nurses, and you’re praying that they’re going to bring her back to you,” she recalled. “But there was also peace in knowing that, no matter the outcome, you had done everything you possibly could for your child. Children’s Colorado gives you that gift.”

Hours later, the most frightening day of Stacie’s life turned into one of the happiest when she received the news that Sydney’s surgery had been a success. Her daughter’s heart was repaired and beating on its own.

Bouncing back

After recovering in the hospital for several weeks, Sydney was able to go home. Her parents noticed an immediate difference in their daughter. She had more energy and wanted to play with her friends again. The “I-do-it kid” was back.

“She got back to being a child who could do everything on her own again,” said Sydney’s father, Dan.   

Now 11 years old, Sydney still has that spunky spirit, and today she’s using it to entertain audiences on stage. She performs with local theater companies, and she recently landed the lead role in a production of Annie. Even though Sydney continues to face chronic chest pain – a lingering consequence of her heart defect – she refuses to let it get her down.

“I get to be on stage. I get to love what I do,” said Sydney. “It’s nice to know that even though you went through something bad, you got through it.”

Her parents are also incredibly grateful to Children’s Colorado and their daughter’s medical team.

“They’ve given us the gift of our daughter’s life,” said Stacie. “They saved our family.”

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