By Betty Gandee

Hannah Gandee. Photo by Betty Gandee.

February is celebrated as American Heart Month in order to recognize and remember all those with heart conditions.

Heart month is used to educate and promote good heart health.    Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the United States, affecting nearly 40,000 births per year.  Heart defects are present at birth and can include abnormalities in the heart’s structure, electrical system, and other abnormalities that affect the function of the heart.  These conditions affect 1 in 100 babies born in the U.S. each year.

Cheyenne Quinn. Photo by Shasana Quinn.

Cheyenne Quinn, a now active 11-year-old, was one of these babies born with atrial septal defect (ASD).  This condition is when there is a hole in the septum between the heart’s two lower chambers and it allows blood to pass from the left side of the heart to the right side.  Cheyenne underwent open heart surgery to repair this hole at 15 months old in Morgantown, WV.

Looking at Cheyenne now you wouldn’t see that the defect has slowed her down in any way.  She is a happy girl that enjoys dance and cheerleading. She spends time with her friend Hannah, who underwent the same operation.

Hannah Gandee made the trip to Morgantown in November of 2011 when she was eight months old to undergo open heart surgery.  Hannah also had ASD, which was successfully repaired through the operation. Hannah is a now very spunky 7-year-old who loves cheerleading, gymnastics and softball.

Many children suffer from heart related issues and these girls are lucky enough to be able to live normal lives, under the care of a pediatric cardiologist, with no medication or side effects from the defects.  Cheyenne and Hannah let nothing slow them down.  They are full force souls with tons of energy that live every day to the fullest.