A full life with half a heart

She does everything any other happy and healthy 20 year-old woman can do. Macleay College student Sophie Chappell was born with only half a heart, but she says she’s never felt more alive.

Sophie was born with Hyper-plastic Left Heart Syndrome, which left her with no left ventricle.

“Essentially I only have half a heart.” Says Sophie. “I’ve never felt any different from anyone else.”

Sophie’s Mum was told at her 20 week scan that her daughter would unlikely live past 6 months of age.

“I had heart surgery at 3 days old, 8 months old and then my last one was at 2 years-old,” Sophie said.

From that point, Sophie’s lived like any other child, teen and young woman. Despite the passage of time, concerns remain for the future and the obstacles that she has not faced yet, including having kids.

“I’m not sure how I’ll be in 10 years from now, but I’m just living life to the full everyday,” she said.

Now at age 20, Sophie is living healthy and happy while studying a Bachelor Journalism at Macleay College in Melbourne. All with the support from her family, friends and boyfriend.

Sophie says she never felt different as a kid, in fact she did everything her peers did, if not more.

“I did everything that anyone with a full heart at my age did, like cross country and athletics… it has never stopped me from doing anything I love or trying new things.” Explains Sophie.

After moving to Melbourne from her hometown in Brisbane, Sophie hasn’t has a heart related hospital admission since her last surgery 18 years ago.

Sophie’s condition is not rare in Australia. Eight babies in Australia are born with a heart condition every day. Heart Kids looks after these children and helps them throughout life to reach their full potential.

Research from Heart Kids studies from the 1980s shows that, for those suffering from HLHS, the rate of survival within the first month of life was 5%. In the last decade that survival rate has increased to 94%-98%.