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17-year-old who's had three beating hearts inspires others

Posted at 11:26 PM, Nov 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-21 10:07:30-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Maddie Price look the picture of health. 

"I hang out with friends all the time," said Maddie, a senior at Calvary Christian High School.

Her mom Melanie said her daughter is a typical teen.

"Yes, a normal 17-year-old blonde having issues with her hair in the morning, getting dressed and asking me to iron her shirts."  

But Maddie is not your average kid. She never was. 

"She had her first open heart surgery when she was 9 days old," said Melanie.

Her parents hoped that surgeons would repair a valve in her heart but the operation only bought her time. 

"I remember it to this day. She had blonde curly hair and was cute as can be," said Melanie. "She was sitting on the coach and she kept saying mommy my stomach hurts."  

She was only three. Her trip to the pediatrician, a dose of cruel reality. The doctor knew Maddie's heart wasn't working again.

"Immediately within two minutes he called and the helicopter landed on US 19. He knew she was having heart attacks," said Melanie.

"I have had multiple surgeries and they have tried to fix my heart multiple times. But they determined it could not be fixed any more. The only option was a transplant." 

The first transplant came at five and just last year another one.

"I felt weak and sick so I knew something was wrong," said Maddie.  

But with the help of as many as 50 pills a day at one point Maddie's body has adjusted.

Her pediatric cardiologist Dr. Alfred Asante-Korang whose taken care of Maddie since she was only 4 calls Maddie, "remarkable."

Dr. Asante-Korang sees Maddie as a beacon of hope. She is not hiding the rare condition that affects one of the valves in her heart, instead sharing it. Inspiring her classmates in a school video. And also her community.

She raised more than $50,000 for research through fundraising walks. Each step, a step towards healing.

"Things are changing so much. Who knows we might come out with a tablet that you know can prevent rejection and do all the work," said  Dr. Asante-Korang. 

Maddie's embracing her journey. 

"I want to be a cardiac nurse," said Maddie. 

Maddie doesn't see her condition as a weakness but as a strength that helped develop her strong sprit and sense of determination.

"I do not think it is unfair. I think you are given the life you are given so there is obviously a purpose and you have to take it and make it your own," said Maddie.