UNDERGOING surgery only six hours after being born doesn't bode well for survival, especially when the individual, according to doctor's expectations, has only a 10 percent chance of living through the operation.
In addition, the baby wasn't expected to live a year.
To make matters even more complicated, the baby's aorta valve was damaged during the medical procedure.
A Jefferson County youngster, however, proved that she is a survivor.
Not only did Mary Kish, who is now a seventh grader at Bishop John the King Mussio Junior High School in Steubenville, survive, but she recently placed second in track in the district in the Buckeye Mountaineer Conference and eighth in shot put.
Mary, who had open-heart surgery eight months before the competition, has words of encouragement for other children with medical conditions. Calling on them to persevere, she said, "Be brave, have faith in God and be determined to get well."
She also praised the doctors at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh and others who encouraged her.
BEFORE being selected as one of two track members to compete in the Buckeye Mountaineer Conference activities, the Jefferson County resident had placed in nearly all the track meets in which she participated.
Just seven months before the conference participation, she was unable to lift her arm. That was after she had undergone an operation involving replacement of a diseased aortic value with her own pulmonary valve, and a donor's pulmonary autograft was used to replace hers.
Her surgery when she wasn't even a half-day old occurred because of aortic stenosis. She has been on medication since that time and has had checkups every six months.
DESPITE her young age, Mary appears wiser in some ways than many adults.
Some people far older than the seventh grader haven't learned to deal as best they can with their problems, medical and otherwise. Some with only minor ailments pity themselves and think the world should revolve around them.
GRATEFUL for the help and encouragement that she has received, Mary also is blessed with bravery, determination and faith in God.