From the Heart: Maggie's Story of Hope

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Maggie Maine is looking forward to the Southern Coast Heart Ball Saturday night on Hilton Head Island.

The blonde haired 7-year-old says she loves to dance, but it's something that her parents were told that she might never do.

"We were told a pretty bleak future really.  We were told that she wouldn't be able to communicate, wouldn't be able to talk, wouldn't be able to walk," says her father Jeff Maine.

The Maines will tell Maggie's story at the Heart Ball, which is a major fundraiser for the American Heart Association.

Heart Disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for both men and women, but it doesn't just affect adults. Before she was born, ultrasounds revealed that Maggie not only had a brain defect but that she would also be one of an estimated 40,000 babies that the American Heart Association says are born each year with congenital heart defects.

Many of those, like Maggie, will require surgery within a year.  She had her first open heart surgery at three months.  Since then she has had four other heart surgeries and suffered two strokes.

Despite all odds being stacked against her, Maggie has proven to be a miracle.  Now at the age of seven, nearly eight, she is on a pacemaker full-time but is very much a typical second grader.

"We have had doctors look at us and tell us that there is really no medical explanation. She is missing half of her cerebellum, which causes your right and left brain to speak to one another, so coordination and balance can be an issue for her and yet she is able to take ballet and she is riding bikes and running," says Maggie's mother Renae Maine.

Maggie says she likes math and she loves to dance.

"I dance every day because I'm addicted to it," she tells me with a smile.

Her parents credit their faith and the advances being made in research and treatment for how well she is doing.

The work being done by the American Heart Association plays a critical part in that.

"Heart Disease affects all of us.  And it's just the research that their doing is making the medicines and making the surgeries and making everything better.  And giving people like Maggie and adults a way to continue to live and have a good normal life," said Jeff Maine.

Renae Maine says that they love to tell Maggie's story because it gives others hope.

"When you see a child, who has gone through five surgeries and two strokes and she is seven years old and she is living life to the fullest and she is positive, it's an inspiration," she said.

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