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Teen makes history with untested heart surgery

Posted at 2:43 PM, Aug 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-04 17:26:28-04

COPPERAS COVE, TX.  — Thirteen-year-old Angelica Torres of Copperas Cove has become the first child in the United States to have a heart loop monitor embedded into her chest.

When Torres was two years old, she was stung by a bee that triggered an allergic reaction and landed her in the emergency room. That experience allowed doctors to diagnose her heart problem, Supra Ventricular Tachycardia, which causes an abnormal heart rate that weakens the muscle, causing blood to clot, and a stroke and/or a heart attack due to the pressure.

After several unsuccessful surgeries, doctors proposed a procedure never done before in the United States. They put a loop heart monitor the size of a thumb drive in her chest in December of 2018. Although she still feels some pain, it's not enough to wipe the smile off her face as she reaches for her goals.

"Today she is able to listen to her body and pay attention to it, and listen to it, and knows what her limitations are. Her parents have ensured that she is still living as a kid. She runs track, she power-lifts and plays volleyball and of course, travels as Young Miss Five Hills making appearances," said Wendy Sledd, Director of Communications at Copperas Cove ISD.

In March, Angelica won the Miss Five Hills Scholarship Pageant and is using that platform to advocate for heart awareness. While she advocates to inform, her heart informs, her monitor sends data to doctors and is putting her at the forefront of modern medicine.

"The amazing thing is that to talk with her, she is a beautiful young lady, straight-A student and active, so don't always judge a book by its cover. Because sometimes, there is a lot going on inside but with her, you would never know it. She truly is victorious, and she helps others," said Sledd.

Angelica aims to provide even more help by becoming a cardiovascular surgeon when she grows up.

She is currently working on the "Get Recycled Go Red for Women Fashion Show" that will take place in February to help raise heart awareness in the community.