Iowa girl faces her 43rd surgery; she’s only 4

DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI/CNN) - She’s just four years old, but little Nadia Grimes has already gone through more than 40 surgeries.

A 4-year-old girl with a vascular ring will have her 43rd surgery later this month. (Source: KCCI/CNN)

But this toddler is a fighter and she keeps beating the odds.

Back in 2016, when she still only 16 months old, Nadia was diagnosed with a vascular ring, an abnormal formation of the aorta.

The congenital heart problem led to a series of surgeries.

“She is doing really well right at the moment," said Christina Grimes, Nadia’s mom.

But the surgeries keep coming. Just last month, the Grimes family was at the Mayo Clinic so Nadia could have surgeries No. 41 and 42.

"The last surgery that they just did they put a balloon catheter in to open up the artery,” Christina Grimes said. “It worked, not as well as they'd like, though."

She’ll head back to the Mayo Clinic at the end of this month for surgery No. 43.

"Mayo said that she could possibly have five to 10 more,” Mom explained. “They just don't know for sure.”

She said it is important that time keeps ticking and Nadia continues to get stronger because another surgery to repair the vascular ring is in her daughter's future.

"It's not holding. It’s actually where it’s collected scar tissue all around it and it's actually stretching as she is growing. It’s like a rubber band," Christina Grimes said.

She said what Nadia has to endure is tough on the entire family. At times, it’s hard to put on the brave face she knows her daughter needs.

"There are days I cry myself to sleep,” mom said. “Only thing that helps is talking about it."

As hard as things are with constant trips to Mayo and 42 surgeries, she is happy her daughter is still alive.

They’re not in this alone. She said they’ve gotten a lot of support from family and friends, along with the American Heart Association and other groups committed to helping families who have loved ones facing chronic health issues.

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