Bernadette's Heart Story

By: Bernadette Fresty

"My greatest goal in life is to give back by saving lives." I was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) in 2001. My parents found out about my heart defect during a routine ultrasound appointment. After the doctors delivered the news that I would be born with a severe and likely fatal heart defect, my mother’s doctor advised her to go home and begin making funeral arrangements incase I didn't live far past birth. But I proved them wrong and defied the odds. After being born, I stayed in the NICU for just over a month. My family watched me undergo three open heart surgeries before Kindergarten. First, the Norwood at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. Then the Glenn procedure, at Cleveland Clinic. Finally, my third, the Fontan, at Akron Children’s hospital.

Since my third surgery in 2004, I have not been in the hospital for any complications related to my HLHS. I am truly blessed to have been able to grow up without any of the frightening and life threatening complications that many children with HLHS have. I still see my pediatric cardiologist annually, take heart medicine daily, and have routine tests and procedures done to assess how my heart is functioning. I was an active child where I danced ballet for 12 years, played recreational soccer, and high school softball. I was an honors student throughout middle and high school and am currently a student at Kent State University studying nursing in their Honors College. It came as no surprise that I choose a career in healthcare - I literally owe my life to the healthcare workers that treated me as a child and continue to treat me today. I hope to become a pediatric cardiac nurse practitioner, treating and healing patients like myself and working with their families. 

The Children’s Heart Foundation places children at the heart of research, just as I place healing children at the heart of my career goal.