Teen upbeat about 3rd heart surgery

Staff writer

Karly Hess looks like any normal teenager, but the May graduate of Marion High School is counting the days until her open-heart surgery — the third she has had to endure in 18 years of living with a congenital birth defect known as tetralogy of Fallot.

“They will always have to do repairs to her heart,” her mother, Sherry Hess, said.

Continual rescheduling of Karly’s heart surgery, originally planned for June, is why hours at her family’s business, Wagon Wheel Express, where Karly helps out, have been erratic in recent weeks.

Plans to fix some leaky valves and put in a stent have been pushed back twice. The survey now is scheduled for July 10 at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

“The first time it was pushed, a little boy had to have emergency surgery,” Karly said. “This time they didn’t say why it was pushed.”

According to Sherry, Karly’s condition is serious, but not serious enough to require immediate surgery.

Heart problems have kept her from playing sports and having caffeine.

“I had one surgery to put in stents and tubes and another to fix a hole in my heart,” Karly said.

Her third surgery will take five hours, but Karly will not remember much from the operation. Her parents are a different story.

“I think they’re more nervous than me,” Karly said. “I was young last time, so I don’t remember much. They can remember and will have to go through it again. It brings up bad memories.”

If all goes well, Karly will recover from the surgery in five to six weeks. The surgery will not totally fix her heart, and she will have to have more surgeries in the future.

“The reason we’ve waited so long for this surgery,” Sherry said, “is because they are now replacing valves with human tissue instead of mechanical implants. These last around 15 to 20 years opposed to the mechanical, that only lasted 5 to 10 years.”

Karly will not have to take anti-rejection pills and will be able to go longer between surgeries.

She may not be nervous about the surgery, but she is ready to get it over.

“This has always been a problem, so this surgery wasn’t a shock. We just didn’t know when it was going to happen,” Karly said.

After her surgery, Karly plans to attend Manhattan Technical College and major in business.

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