Lexxi Vega, a second grader at Tuloso-Midway Primary, was born with nine holes in her heart due to Congenital Heart Disease. She's had three major surgeries and was just diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, but wants to be sure she gives back to others suffering from heart disease with the American Heart Association's 'Jump Rope for Heart."
Lexxi had her first open heart surgery at 2 months old, in October 2010, at Driscoll Children's Hospital. Doctors wanted to wait until she was bigger, but Lexxi was unable to eat and was losing weight.
Two years after her first surgery, Lexxi had another open-heart surgery to try and close some patches in her heart, which her mother says went well.
Two years later, though, Lexxi became very sick with chronic asthma and began to suffer from lung damage. Turns out, Lexxi's aortic valve was ripping in half and she needed emergency surgery. Lexxi's mother, Leann, took her to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston for the surgery, where Lexxi stayed in the hospital for a week. The family returned to the Coastal Bend as Lexxi's recovery was going well.
An annual follow-up a year later, in October of 2017, revealed the pressure in her heart was dropping. Two weeks later, LeAnn got the news that Lexxi was suffering from left ventricular non-compaction, or LVNC.
"A normal person's heart will beat automatically and hers has to think a little bit," Leann said.
Lexxi was put on medication to keep her muscles from getting weaker, but there is no cure for LVNC.
"It's been difficult to swallow this pill because surgery can't fix this," Leann said. "The only thing that can fix this is a pacemaker or heart transplant."
Lexxi is in the early stages of the disease, and her mother says it is important that Lexxi isn't too active. This is not an easy thing to do with a seven year old, her mother said.
"She's not allowed to participate in PE," Leann said. "She can go to recess but she can't swing or jump, she can basically just watch her friends do it."
This is not stopping Lexxi from raising money for others who suffer from heart disease like her, though, and is participating in her third Jump Rope for Heart this year!
Jump Rope for Heart raises money for the American Heart Association. Children across the area set a goal for donations and learn about ways to take care of their heart health.
Though Lexxi cannot participate in the jump-rope competition that comes along with the fundraiser, LeAnn says this is Lexxi's favorite time of the year.
"She's super excited for it," Leann said. "She knows what it's for and knows she's the only person at her school with heart disease."
For the past three years, Lexxi has raised over $1,000 for the American Heart Association during the Jump Rope for Heart campaign.
Lexxi has an online donation portal where she is collecting funds. Her goal this year is to reach $1,000 in donations, and she is over halfway there!
"She wants to talk about her heart and this is the one thing she doesn't feel left out on," Leann said.
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