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Making advancements in treating kids with heart defects

4-year-old Emma Wasson is one of the 40,000 babies born with a heart defect. (KATV Photo)

4-year-old Emma Wasson was born with two heart defects and a rare genetic condition, a combination affecting only two other people in medical journal history.

After two open heart surgeries and multiple other procedures at Arkansas Childern's hospital, Emma is the only known survivor.

ACH cardiologist Dr. Josh Daily says 50 or 60 years ago children diagnosed with a congenital heart defect would have died during infancy.

"We've now reached a point where most children born with congenital heart disease live into adulthood so the focus has now been shifted to how can we optimize their quality of life," said Daily.

According to the American Heart Association about 40,000 babies are born with a heart defect each year.

In Emma's case it's genetic, but in many cases there are no answers to what causes those defects.

As researchers look for answers as to why it happens , there are also advancements in treatment.

Because of that Dr. Daily and Emma's parents says her prognosis is good.

"At this point her heart is functioning very well she has two ventricles which pump blood to her lungs and her body respectively and her function appears to be excellent," said Dailey. "She can't walk, she can't eat, she feeds through a side port, but we're hoping and we're not giving up hope that one day she'll be able to walk, talk and eat like you and I."

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