Four-year-old girl shines in gymnastics despite heart condition

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Four-year-old Katherine Lange was born with, essentially, half a heart – but you would never guess it seeing Katherine put her whole heart into practicing gymnastics.

“Katherine was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which basically means she has no left ventricle,” Gary Lange, her dad, said, “so she lives with half a heart.”

Already, Katherine has had three open-heart surgeries – at four days old, four months old and another before she was three years old.

“She’s had roughly 10 heart catheters,” her dad said.

Recently, she was even diagnosed with protein-losing enteropathy.

“The pressure pushes down on their liver and causes their protein to leak out of their liver,” her dad explained. “So they manage it with medication a diet of 20 grams of fat a day.”

Still, you wouldn’t know about any of this just watching her in gymnastics class.

“All you hear about before they grow up or, you know, when they’re babies, is how low energy they have and like everyone’s taking so many naps and Katherine is the complete opposite. She’s full of energy running around all day,” Case Armstrong Lange, her mom, said.

The family has had to be even more careful amid the pandemic but they’re grateful for advancements in medical technology. Whenever they see Katherine having fun at the gym, she has the heart of a champion.

Gary: “Are you still heart strong?
Katherine: “Yes.”
Gary: “I can’t hear it, say it louder!”
Katherine: “Yeah!!”

According to Katherine’s dad, they have a friend named Megan who’s a gymnast with the same heart condition. Katherine’s parents say Megan and stories like hers give them hope.