MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Some of the most difficult stories to report are when a child collapses playing sports because of an unknown heart condition.

Doctors say that’s what would have happened to Kylie’s Kid Ava if her parents hadn’t insisted on more testing to find out what was wrong.

One major heart surgery later and Ava’s back in action on the softball field.

“I’ve been playing softball for six years,” Ava said. “I like running the bases and just playing with the team.”

Ava was born with a heart defect.

“One of her arteries came out of her heart and went through the lungs,” Chad Ihle, Ava’s dad, said.

She had to have two surgeries as a baby at Children’s Minnesota, the first one when she was just a week old.

Now 9-years-old, Ava’s competitive spirit not only makes her a stellar athlete, but it might have saved her life.

“We discovered through playing sports and stuff that she would get really tired, more so than other kids, and she’s a fairly competitive kid,” Ihle said.

“It hurt when I ran,” Ava said.

Last year Ava’s family insisted doctors run further testing on her heart.

They found her left coronary artery was almost completely blocked.

“The coronary is what makes your heart pump and she had no flow to one side of her heart,” Chad said. “There was very little to no blood flow there.”

Right away Ava was benched until they could perform surgery.

“She had to quit playing her softball and quit PE and stuff like that,” Chad said.

Finally in October they found a specialist and the whole family traveled to Boston for Ava’s heart surgery.

“I had to go to get the surgery done so I could run and stuff,” Ava said.

In two months, Ava was back to her active lifestyle.

“She was pretty excited about getting back to full health for her sports,” Ilhe said.

And by January she was back to playing the sport she loves.

“To sit back and be the parent of her and see all the things she’s gone through and how strong she is,” Chad said “How tough she is as a 9-year-old kid, it’s pretty amazing.”

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