Strong Hearted

Iris is a smart, artistic, and high-energy girl who loves to sing, play the piano, ride her bike and run around like other kids her age. She has big beautiful eyes and a bright smile. If you look very closely, you might notice that she wears a colorful hearing aid—but otherwise you’d never know that she’s been through nine surgeries and has a serious heart condition.

When Iris was born, the roof of her mouth was not completely formed—a condition known as a cleft palate. Although this abnormality has been repaired, Iris is also being treated for cardiomyopathy which is sometimes associated with cleft palate. Cardiomyopathy means there is a disease of the heart muscle which affects its physical structure and strength. At its worst, it can to heart failure, heart arrhythmias, disability or death.

In Iris’ case, her heart is enlarged—meaning that it is too big for her small body. She seems to be “growing into that larger heart”, but there are other complications. Sometimes gets extremely tired and can pass out. When this happens, her heart may stop without warning.

About a year ago, Iris’ heart stopped beating twice in one day. Luckily, she was taken to the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison where she received a pacemaker—a type of medical device that uses electrical impulses to regulate the beating of the heart. Iris and her family are thrilled by the progress she’s made since receiving her pacemaker, which has relieved a lot of worry.

Iris isn’t the only one in the family with health concerns, however. Her dad is now being treated for cancer and recently had part of one lung removed. This brings new concerns to a family that has already been through a lot. Fortunately, Iris’ family has strong faith and commitment to helping each other when they’re hurting. They have positive outlook and are looking forward to getting the entire family healthy soon. And now that Iris is feeling better, she is eager to cheer up her dad when he is not.


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