'We are incredibly grateful': A Wichita child's story of survival
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - A Wichita family is paying it forward by sharing their daughter's story of survival. Molly Tittsworth was born with a complex congenital heart defect, but thanks to her doctors and research, she's alive and well.
One of 5-year-old Molly's favorite things to do is to beat her older brother McCoy at games.
The two may be competitive, but you can tell, they love each other.
Some might call Molly a miracle.
"McCoy had prayed for Molly for years,” said Mom Janelle Tittsworth. “He wanted a baby sister, specifically a baby sister, and here she was, but we can't tell him we don't know what's going to happen.”
Rewind five years. Ryan and Janelle Tittsworth had welcomed Molly into the world, but just hours after she was born doctors discovered something was terribly wrong.
"They told us that Molly had a complex congenital heart defect,” said Janelle Tittsworth. “We needed to make some quick decisions and get her airlifted to save her life."
For the next four weeks Ryan, Janelle, and Molly stayed at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. At just seven days old Molly had her first surgery. That one, just to get her by. At eight months, she had her first open-heart surgery.
Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect in the U.S. Nearly one of every 110 babies is born with the defect. In Molly's case, the aortic arch and ventricle didn't develop correctly plus she had a large hole in her heart.
“When you spend that much time in the hospital and not everybody walks out with their baby, a lot of families don't,” said Janelle Tittsworth. “So we are incredibly grateful for every day."
Now, the Tittsworths are on a mission to pay back all the love and support they've felt from the moment Molly was born. From friends, family, and the American Heart Association.
"We saw that as an open door to give back and use her story and journey to raise awareness," said Janelle Tittsworth.
So they tell her story, and they watch their daughter grow.
“You would never know there's anything wrong with her,” said Dad Ryan Tittsworth. “She's ornery. She gets in trouble. She tests our patience. She's funny."
The scar on her chest marks the sign of a warrior, one who is ready for battle.
"They told us there will be signs,” said Janelle Tittsworth. “She'll be tired. Her heart will never be normal. She will have multiple open heart surgeries and her heart will always need attention.”
Molly will be the featured survivor for the American Heart Association’s Heart Ball on February 11. It raises funds for research for complications just like Molly's. Her parents say had it not been for all the research, doctors might not have caught Molly's heart defect right after she was born.