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My name is Ava Bernardino. I was born in 2001 with ASD, VSD, pulmonary vein stenosis, hypoplastic right ventricle, and tricuspid atresia. I had seven open heart surgeries, the first when I was 13 weeks old and the most recent in 2011. When I was born, my parents were told I wasn’t supposed to live past my first birthday, would never walk, talk, be able to learn, or have any quality of life.

I am now 16 years old…

…am a junior in high school and am planning to attend college to become a cardiac child life specialist. I enjoy sewing, knitting, crafting, and work part-time at Michael’s. While I am tied down by my heart defects, they have lifted me up and inspired me in ways nobody could have ever predicted. People often ask me if I would get rid of my heart defects if I could. My answer is simple. No. While I have struggled with them, I have had breakthroughs. They have helped me meet incredible friends. They have given me an empathy for people and a love for life.