On Friday, January 13, 1995, my cousin, Kara Rose, came into the world. She had bright red hair just like her sister and two brothers. She looked perfectly healthy from the outside, but on the inside, the doctors had failed to detect a serious problem. When she began to have trouble breathing and she turned blue, the doctors immediately put her on oxygen and began to run tests. They found that Kara had been born without part of her heart. The doctors said they would do everything they could, but didn't think she would live long enough to leave the hospital. When she was four days old, she had her first operation. My family stayed together during this critical time, hoping everything would turn out for the best. I was skeptical and anxious hoping the doctors would be able to prolong her life.
Kara's strength and determination to live ware strong. Eventually, she could go home. We all waited patiently while the doctors searched for ways to help her. Every day I hoped for new technology that could give Kara a new heart. When she was eighteen months old, send Kara went to The Children's Hospital in Boston, where a renowned cardiologist performed a series of operations. There was no guarantee she would make it through the surgery, but she triumphed.
Kara grew stronger every day, and it was not long before she was well enough to be around people. We went to visit her. She had an amazing personality. She had a constant smile and loved being around people. I took her in my arms and walked her up and down the street. When she fell asleep against my body, happy and content, I realized how precious life really is. This innocent child had not been given something I took for granted. As I stood by the side of the road with her warm breath against my neck, I decided to live every day of my life to the fullest.
This child who is 15 years younger than I has gone through more trauma and pain than I ever have. I admire her strength, perseverance and determination. Kara has taught me that no matter how bad things seem, they can work out in the end. Knowing this small, beautiful child has made me a stronger person. I now believe that the odds can be beaten. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.