5-year-old born with half her heart fights for her life daily

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 3:41 PM EDT
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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KOAT) – A little girl in Albuquerque is fighting for her life on a daily basis after being born with only half a heart.

“She’s 5 years old. She’s been through so much in life already,” her father, Gary Lange, said.

Family members describe Katherine Lange as free-spirited, loving and caring.

Katherine looks like a perfectly healthy child, but she could have a stroke at any moment.

“It’s very tough, you know? It’s definitely a journey. It takes a village because you don’t know what can happen from one day to the next,” Lange said.

Katherine has a rare heart defect that causes the heart to be underdeveloped in more ways than one.

Lange said his daughter has had three open heart surgeries before she turned three and has had approximately 10 heart catheterizations.

“Just in the last 12 months, she’s had over 40 blood draws,” he said.

But that’s only half the battle for Katherine, as she’s now dealing with liver leakage. Lange explained Katherine is facing protein-losing enteropathy.

“It has to do with the lymphatic system leaking into the liver and blood goes through the pathways through resistance and pushes down on the liver -- which is causing her albumin to leak,” Lange said.

If all else fails, Lange said his little girl would need a heart and liver transplant to save what’s left of her life.