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Riley Champion

Heart Month is quickly coming to an end. But for some Hoosiers Heart Month is a year long celebration.

Camille Kerlin, a high school senior who, to the outside world, seems to be excelling as a normal teenager. She's an honor student playing varsity sports at Warsaw High School. But she's struggled to get to where she is today. Her mom told me she's lucky to be alive.

Camille told ABC 57 News, "I was born as a preemie 29 weeks gestation. And I was diagnosed with transposition of the great vessels of the heart and a hole between my ventricles. Which basically means I had a hole and the blood flowed backwards in my heart."

On her very first day of life she was flown to Riley Hospital where they gave her a 5% chance to live through her first procedure, which was a bedside septostomy.  

The struggle to survive continued for the first two and a half years of her life.

"When I was 2 1/2 I had my first open heart surgery that fixed the transposition and they replaced my pulmonary artery with an artificial conduit which meant I would have to have more surgeries ahead of me instead of just fixing it all in that first surgery."

Which her mom, Diane Kerlin, told ABC 57 News "it was devastating to see this sweet little toddler bed fast that was a very difficult time and then she did really well until she had to have a stent when she was five but that bought us a couple years because as she was growing she was running out of room in that conduit and then when she was 7 they had to replace it again so she had her second open heart surgery. And that was interesting because two weeks after she had it she went back to school which I think is pretty phenomenal."

And Camille continues to not let anything stand in her way.

"It has shaped her but I think that's made her a stronger person. It has not defined her life and I think that's maybe that's just her personality but it hasn't it hasn't slowed her down."
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