Discovery of new treatments help children with congenital heart defects

Congenital heart defects are the most common types of birth defects.

It affects one in every 100 babies each year.

Four-year-old Emma Wasson is a special little girl. She was born with two heart defects and a rare genetic condition.

The combination affecting only two other people in medical journal history. After two open heart surgeries and multiple other procedures, Emma is the only known survivor.

"It really is a miracle that she's here,” said Emma’s mother Jerilyn.

Arkansas Children's Hospital Cardiologist Dr. Josh Daily said 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,” explained Daily.

According to the American Heart Association, about 40,000 babies are born with a heart defect each year. For some like Emma, the cause is genetic.

As researchers look for answers as to why it happens, there are also advancements in treatment and because of that Dr. Daily and Emma’s parents say her prognosis is very good.