Local Child Battling Heart & Lung Problems

Published 06/23 2014 03:02PM

Updated 06/23 2014 05:41PM

SHIRLEYSBURG, HUNTINGDON COUNTY - After 3 surgeries and 10 procedures on her heart, a local 3-year-old heads back into the operating room, this summer. We first introduced you to Gracie Covert last June, when her parents were desperately trying to find a hospital to treat her.

She was born with major heart defects, and needed a lung transplant. Finally, Nationwide Children's Hospital stepped up, but it hasn't been an easy fix.

Gracie's hard to capture in one spot very long, unless she's eating ice cream, which gets her full attention.

Her mother Kiley Beam says, "she's just a normal kid. She doesn't act like anything's wrong. She's just a kid she doesn't have a clue."
According to Kiley, her daughter's heart defects kept her lungs from developing. The lung arteries need to be enlarged, so Gracie can breath better, and to make  surgery to fix her heart possible. That eventually would allow her to get a lung transplant. 

"In reality, it's a long road, it's not an easy fix, she's not going to be just fixed," Kiley says, adding, "I believe she's going to be fine."

Kiley says Gracie's first procedure at Nationwide Children's went extremely well, and her shortness of breath and other symptoms, eased considerably. But the toddler's breathing worsened again, and when doctors went back into her lungs, in January, some of the arteries had renarrowed.

Gracie also suffered bleeding and lung damage during the procedure. But Kiley's optimistic about the next treatment scheduled for August.
"I feel really good. I'm anxious. I want it to come because she makes me nervous when she gets so out of breath, and tired, so I'm ready for it. I sorta wish it was sooner than later," she says, smiling, "but I don't."

Meantime, the family has a new concern, Gracie's s brother Aiden, also born with heart defects ,  recently began having trouble breathing.  He may need a pacemaker.  He has a follow-up appointment at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital in 3 months.
But Kiley says the kids seem to take it all in stride.  "They're not scared. They have no fear. They don't know the risks. We don't tell them that," she explained, but added, "they to an extent, know. If they ask we tell."
Kiley says Gracie's symptoms improved after the previous 2 lung procedures, but they returned as she got closer to her next procedure.  She says the recent humid weather has made it more difficult for Gracie to breath. 

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Top Videos