TAMPA, Fla. —  A Lake Wales woman who overcame the odds as a baby with a heart defect conquered another challenge 24 years later by giving birth. 

What You Need To Know

  • Danielle Kern had 3 open heart surgeries as a baby with a heart defect

  • Doctors said having a baby with her heart troubles was risky

  • Heart specialists and support groups helped her through the pregnancy

After three open heart surgeries as a child at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa to fix one of her heart chambers, Danielle Kern delivered her own miracle baby at the same hospital.

"He's about 8 pounds and a half now," she chuckled while holding her newborn.  

While she glowed while thinking about the new addition to her life, Kern also remembered the advice of doctors about the risks of pregnancy and her heart condition. Her journey involved two miscarriages, yet she was resilient.

 "They basically told me it was a big no-go, but I don't like to listen to people," she admitted.

St. Joseph's Hospital adult congenital cardiologist Dr. Joel Hardin is one of only 500 cardiologists in the United States that specializes in congenital heart defects. When he was connected to Kern, Hardin and his team of cardiologists and heart surgeons monitored the mom-to-be as she delivered her son by C-Section. 

"Women born with complex heart disease (this is just one complex type of heart disease) they do have increased risks of complications," said Hardin.

Despite the risk, both mom and baby made it safely through the procedure, and doctors say Kern's son's heart is perfectly healthy.

"I was actually surprised that I made it 9 months," said Kern. "No one thought I would make it." 

Kern says she found support in groups with other moms suffering from similar heart defects. ​

For those in the same position and considering motherhood, Kern strongly encourages them to seek the advice of heart specialists and include them in the planning phase for a successful pregnancy.