Derby girl born with heart defect celebrates 9th birthday in the state capitol

KSN Digital Extra

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – An incredibly lucky Derby girl got to celebrate her birthday in Topeka with a Kansas official who shares the same birth date she does. 

On Friday, Brooklynn Dodge traveled with her mom, Melissa Dodge, to the Topeka to take part in the signing of the Congenital Heart Defect Awareness resolution by Governor Laura Kelly.

“I have been doing a lot of advocacy through the American Heart Association and was invited to take part in the Congenital Heart Defect Awareness resolution that Governor Kelly was singing,” Brooklynn’s Mom Melissa Dodge said. “Which was just very exciting, it was the first time we had been able to do that.”

Brooklynn is a happy, giggly, charming, 9-year-old girl who runs and loves to be active like many kids her age. Most wouldn’t guess that young Brooklyn has had over twenty heart surgeries. 

Brooklynn is living with Hypoplastic left heart syndrome and was just eight days old when she had her first surgery. Doctors did not expect her to survive the pregnancy and gave her a short window of survival if she made it to birth. 

Not only has she survived pregnancy and birth, but her body continues to adapt and overcome her heart defects to give Brooklyn the fullest life possible. 

“Watching your child go through something like that is incredibly straining and we’re now kind of stepping in and discussing like PTSD and the mental state of a caregiver of a child with CHD,” Brooklynn’s Mom Melissa Dodge said, “So, just advocating on that side of things is incredibly hard and stressful and we’re so fortunate and blessed that Brooklyn has come so far.”

Melissa says communication with her daughter has been a key factor when taking Brooklyn to her appointments.

“If she senses that I am overwhelmed with our appointments and things like that, then she’s going to start getting overwhelmed and anxious,” said Dodge.

The family got a picture with Gov. Kelly at her desk, which her office shared with Twitter. “Today, I met Brooklyn Dodge & her mom, Melissa. Brooklyn suffers from a heart condition & has had 20+ surgeries. She and I are also birthday buddies!” said Gov. Kelly. The governor went on to write, “We agree the best gift would be for #ksleg to #ExpandKanCare so her hardworking mom can access healthcare & keep their family strong.”

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