An Interview with Emily: Her Heart Story

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This post was first published over three years ago and has become one of our all-time most popular posts, so we wanted to share it with you all again.  May it encourage you today!

We hope you'll be encouraged by this interview with Emily, Bloom! Photographer and Designer, about her heart surgery years ago and how the Lord has been using that in her life.

Tell us a bit about your heart issue.

I was born with TAPVR (Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return). The pulmonary vein that should have taken oxygen from my lungs and sent it through my heart to the rest of my body was connected to the wrong side of my heart. Therefore, I could not oxygenate my body at all. Within a few minutes of my birth I started turning blue. I was quickly flown to Dallas Children’s Hospital where I had open heart surgery at barely a day old.

So you had heart surgery. You were a baby and won't remember it, but what have your parents told you about it?

 photo scan0007_zps1276ea1f.jpgI have heard the story so many times that it seems like I do remember it. So, what exactly did having surgery do? The surgery snipped the vein and reconnected it to the right side of the heart. The incision was patched with a portion of my pericardial sac that according to doctors serves no other purpose than for the repair of surgeries. My surgeon said it's as if God put it there for that purpose alone.

The funny thing is that the story of my heart surgery doesn't even feel like it's my story. Even though it was my life it doesn't seem like my place to tell. It has affected so many people - or rather, God affected so many people through my surgery. I had so many people praying for me. I have been told that some people said their first prayer for me. How humbling is that? Me. God used little-day-old-me to bring people to Him. They didn't even know me or my family. If I were to sum it all up in one word it would be: humbled. Incredibly humbled. Humbled that so many prayed for me and humbled that God chose to let me stay.

God showed Himself in so many ways through the rough beginning of my life. Again, as I type this I think how very little this actually has to do with me. I could list off all the people who came, who gave, or who prayed, but that would take way too long. I could tell you about the stranger who came up to my parents as they were flying out to meet me at the hospital and told them that my surgery had started and that I was stable. I could list off every little detail of how God uses what we may, at the time, view as bad for something truly good, but that could take a very long time!

What are a couple examples of how God used your heart issue for His glory?

I was in the hospital for a mere three weeks when my parents were told it could be six weeks to six months. After that I was at home on medications and feeding tubes. I could not come in contact with anyone besides my parents. I can't imagine what it must have been like to be them. They sacrificed so much for me. My momma ended up not finishing college because she needed to take care of me. She would probably tell you that through her extremely rough introduction to parenthood, God was preparing her for the kind of mother she would someday be. He used my heart issues to show her that she both needed and wanted to be a stay at home mother and later a homeschooling mother.

Another and really amazing way God showed Himself through my heart is the widening of a vein. When I was 18-months-old I went in for a routine heart check-up. The repair site had narrowed. To avoid another surgery the vein needed to stay at the size it was and even then there may have been another surgery. The vein really needed to widen, but according to the doctors that was medically impossible. 

Impossible. Is anything impossible with God? Absolutely not! After leaving the appointment, my parents decided that they were going to pray and get everyone they knew to pray. It’s impossible, right? Wrong. Six months later the doctor came in after my check-up with the news that the repair site had widened.The doctor asked my parents what they had prayed for. They told her that they prayed that it would widen. She said, "But I told you that couldn't happen." To which my Daddy replied, "But you aren't God and He can do anything." The doctor said, "And He did." This had never before happened in medical history. More doctors came in to see the miracle God had done in me. God had just proved to all these people that He is not only there, but that when you trust Him you have nothing to fear.
What has the aftermath been like? Did you have any further problems?

I have been extremely blessed! I have been able to do everything I ever could have. For example, the doctors said that I probably wouldn't like to run or like to play soccer. They were wrong! I love to run and my favorite sport was soccer. The only thing holding me back was my mother yelling from the sidelines, "Check your fingernails!" (To make sure I had good circulation.) or "Coach, I think she needs a break!" I didn't need a break, but Momma never believes me when it comes to the state of my health. 

There really hasn’t been anything that I could not do. What a blessing! As for doctors, up until October 2012 I had to go in every two years to have my heart checked. They wanted to make sure the repair was growing with me, that I had good blood pressure, and that everything was still good. 

In fact, had I been born just a year earlier I wouldn't have made it. I was actually part of a study where they used a new kind of medicine. That medicine saved my life several times. So after 17 years of appointments and my mother yelling, "Check your nails!", I was released. Now through God's grace and incredible planning, my heart problem is now my heart history. I feel so incredibly blessed! Not only did God choose to let me stay here, but He allowed me to live without further complications. He also gave me a testimony to share from day one. I have been able to tell everyone I know about my heart surgery and how God worked through it. Now, I'm telling you!

What has the Lord taught you through all this?

I don't think I could list everything God has taught me through my heart, but, here are a few lessons He has taught me: to never doubt the power of prayer, that He has a purpose for every life, and to never question His plan. He knows best whether we think so or not. Had I been in charge I probably would have voted, "No!" to my heart problem. I would have made a big mistake.

Maybe you or a loved one is going through health problems. I pray that you aren't and that you never have to. If you are though, remember that absolutely nothing is impossible with God, and remember that His planning is way better than ours. Just think how different my life would be had it not started the way it did!


  1. Thank you for sharing this life threatening story. Thank God you got through the surgery. Wishing you and yours a life of blessings.
    God Bless
    Marilyn and family


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