CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. (CBS) – A Crystal Lake girl named Everly Backe, 4, was born with a heart defect and underwent three surgeries before her first birthday.
The surgeries left him with physical scars.
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After learning how they made her feel, her father, Matt Backe, thought of the best way to support his daughter.
In an interview with CBS News Laura Podesta, a scar inspired her father to get a replica tattoo on his chest – he calls it the Zipper.
“A few years later we’ll be at the beach or the pool or whatever and if she’s feeling shy or whatever, we’ll be buddies and we’ll get through this together,” Matt Backe said.
Everly’s mother, Lauren Backe, learned of her daughter’s congenital heart defect when she was 33 weeks pregnant.
“I was very emotional the last few weeks, mostly because I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Lauren said. “For the vast majority of congenital heart disease, it’s not as bad as what Everly has.”
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Everly’s cardiologist, Dr Joshua Wong of Advocate Children’s Hospital, says she may need more surgeries as she gets older.
“As she grows, she will need at least two, maybe three more open-heart surgeries to increase the size of this valve,” Wong said.
Lauren says this is Everly’s only known standard.
“She’s tired, she doesn’t have as much energy as your average 4-year-old, but that’s her norm,” Lauren Backe said. “She doesn’t know anything different.”
But Everly knows one thing: she knows that heart means “love.”
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Around 400,000 babies are affected each year by congenital heart disease, the most common birth defect.