Dancing with Heart

Molly Ann Lessig, a junior at Western Kentucky University, has a full course load this semester, yet never misses a beat with her outgoing personality and life on campus. She looks at challenges as opportunities. Lessig participates in various organizations on campus, but one — Dance Big Red — stands out and holds a special place in her heart. Dance Big Red is a student-led fundraising event benefiting pediatric cardiovascular services at Norton Children’s Hospital.

When she was 6 years old, Lessig was taken to her doctor for strep throat; the alarming part of her visit was her extreme blood pressure levels. After several weeks of tests with specialists, she met with Fred Arensman, M.D., a cardiologist she would soon come to adore. She was diagnosed with juxtaductal coarctation of the left aorta, a birth defect of the heart in which the aorta is narrowed. Three months later, she had open-heart surgery at Norton Children’s Hospital. Erle H. Austin III, M.D., chief of cardiovascular surgery and pediatric cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon with University of Louisville Physicians, performed the surgery to remove her left aorta.

The Lessig family will always be grateful for the care they received at Norton Children’s Hospital, but they have a few “special moments” they will never forget. When Lessig was taken to the operating room, she asked to be pulled in a red wagon. She also was allowed to be accompanied by her sidekick, a Beanie Baby puppy named Sarah, who also wore a hospital band. Also, one special intensive care unit nurse worked an extra 12-hour shift because of her concern, passion and care for her young patient she did not even know.

Those moments of extra-special care impacted Lessig and her entire family. They are examples of the true commitment of the nurses and doctors at Norton Children’s Hospital. Lessig continues to share her story with a special group of children and families called Brave Hearts. She works to inspire, bring awareness and raise funds to help the next generation of brave children needing complex heart surgeries and care. Learn more about Dance Big Red and how you can get involved.

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