American Heart Month: Celebrating Ryann, a three-year-old sassy heart warrior

Ryann is a "sweet but sassy three-year-old," as her mom, Lindsay, says. "The sass is, for sure, what got her through five surgeries."

Ryann has multiple congenital heart defects (CHD). She was born with Levo-Transposition of the Great Arteries (L-TGA), and a hole in her heart called a ventricular septal defect (VSD). This occurs when the connections between the atria, ventricles, and arteries are abnormal, which means one ventricle has to work harder to pump blood to the body and becomes overworked and weak.

Ryann underwent a double switch procedure to "correct" her heart. She has a pacemaker and fortunately does not need it at this point.

Like Ryann, kids with heart defects typically tire more easily, have difficulty breathing and exercising, but this doesn't stop Ryann from being her rambunctious self.

"Ryann's future is as bright as the stars," Lindsay said. "We don't hold her back from anything. We don't want her to limit herself just because of her heart defect. We don't let that define her. Of course, if we find that she can't do something because of her heart, at least we can say we tried!"

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Approximately 40,000 babies are born with congenital heart disease in the United States annually. About a third of them will need surgery or other medical treatment during their first few weeks of life.

There is no cure for CHD's, and many children undergo multiple heart surgeries that require long hospitalizations.

That's where Starlight comes in.

Starlight delivers happiness to seriously ill kids and their families by providing Starlight Hospital Gowns, Gaming stations, Virtual Reality headsets, toys, arts and crafts, books, and so much more. Because a sick child still deserves all the fun of a "normal childhood."

"Normalcy and joy are so important to have because getting better is a mindset," Lindsay said. "Ryann healed so quickly because her only goal was to get up and play. Making her laugh and having fun made her think less about her 'boo-boo'."

Share the love and help Starlight deliver happiness to Heart Warriors like Ryann, because every kid deserves a fun childhood.
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