Toddler recovering after second open heart surgery

By Victoria Hansen and Sam

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- She's four years-old and full of spunk. Maddie Turzelli makes her way away around the MUSC play center like she owns it. She's certainly been here before.

"We were 20 weeks pregnant, did a routine scan and ended up turning into a nightmare of a day from there," said Maddie's mom, Dawn.

Maddie was born with a rare heart condition called tricuspid atresia. It basically means she's missing a valve in her heart.{}

Maddie{}has undergone two open heart surgeries in her short life. The first was when she was only four-months-old. The second was three years later.{}

"Seven days for open heart surgery is kind of amazing. I think at three-years-old, to go home after the fact and she was without any oxygen without any medical equipment," Dawn Turzelli said.

She said she was amazed by her daughter. The scar beneath her collar bone is slight, and doesn't seem to slow Maddie down a bit. Her red Christmas dress, pool blue eyes and bouncy blonde hair brighten the hospital's enormous playroom.

Dawn was also amazed by the doctors and research made possible by the American Heart Association.

"You know 20, 25 years ago they weren't really doing these surgeries that Maddie's having and all the kids like her so for her to have the quality of life that she has now because of research," said Dawn.

Since her recovery, the four-year-old has not missed a beat.{}

"She does gymnastics; she does soccer. I mean, she has to limit {}herself, but she's really not a whole lot different from other kids her age," Dawn said.

The Turzelli's help support the American Heart Association and its efforts by taking part in the annual walk. They know raising money funds research, and research helps doctors save lives.

The American Heart Association is gearing up for one of its biggest fundraiser's this year, the annual Heart Ball. It is being held February 23.

If you would like to find out more about how you can help the American Heart Association just go to