Girl Born With Half a Heart Defies the Odds After Her Parents Reject Abortion

National   |   Conor Beck   |   Apr 15, 2016   |   6:51PM   |   Washington, DC

Doctors for Harriet Summerhill were so pessimistic about her heart problems during fetal development that they recommended her mother have an abortion.

Now her mother is glad she didn’t. Harriet defied the odds and is a happy 2-year-old today.

Twenty weeks into Emma Summerhill’s pregnancy, she learned that her unborn baby had a condition called pulmonary atresia, reported the Daily Mail. Doctors gave her three choices: have an abortion, let her die naturally soon after birth, or risk an open heart surgery. Summerhill and her husband chose to give their daughter a chance at life and chose to try the surgery.

“There was no way we could have our baby terminated,” Emma said. “We needed to give our baby a chance, despite only half of her heart working.”

The surgery was successful for the South Wales baby, according to the report. Since then, Harriet has surprisingly reached all expected milestones of growth.

Summerhill said, “Harriet underwent her second open heart surgery when she was 8 months old, and after a few serious complications, she pulled through!”

The survival rate of those with pulmonary atresia is not fully understood, however.

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“It’s so scary to know that Harriet’s future is uncertain. She struggles with energy and gets tired quickly but is learning to pace herself so that she can still enjoy being busy and active,” her mother said.

Emma told the news outlet that she hopes her daughter will be eligible for a heart transplant, but this option is not always available for some children. Harriet will have one more open-heart surgery in a couple years. In the meantime, though, her mother is grateful for her life so far.

“We know we will have more challenging times ahead but, for now, we are just enjoying watching her grow and develop and making the most of her life,” her mother said.