Parents refuse to give up when their newborn had half a heart and the girl is now 5

Gary and Kaitlin Lange were overjoyed to learn of their pregnancy in 2017. The couple owned a steakhouse in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and were excited to have their first child.

When the couple went in for their 20-week scan, things took a turn for the worse. While looking at the screen, Kaitlin felt the ultrasound device rub against the gel covering her belly. Gary remembered: “We counted the fingers and toes and were so excited to see all of them.”

The soon-to-be parents exchanged teary glances before turning their gazes to the sonographer, whose smile had suddenly faded. The sonographer was bothered by something in the ultrasound report.

When the doctor explained what was wrong with their prenatal scan results, Gary and Kaitlin’s world turned upside down. The doctor ran another test before revealing the shocking truth because the image of their baby’s heart was not what it should have been.

After reviewing the test results, the doctor diagnosed Gary and Kaitlin’s baby girl with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare condition that affects about one in every 3,841 babies born in the United States.

Gary and Kaitlin Lange chose to continue their pregnancy

Gary and Kaitlin were given the option to terminate their pregnancy after the doctor discussed the effects of this condition on their baby girl. The soon-to-be parents did what they thought was right without hesitation. They chose to carry on with their pregnancy.

Because their baby was diagnosed with a rare condition, the hospital’s surgical team recommended that the couple relocate to Colorado to give birth. Gary and Kaitlin had to close their business after leaving their hometown.

For the sake of their child, the couple made the difficult decision to close their steakhouse by the end of June 2017 and relocate to Colorado. They had no idea how long they would be stuck in a new city with no income.

Gary and Kaitlin created a GoFundMe page to help them manage their finances during the most difficult time of their lives. They regularly updated their followers in the hopes that people would continue to support them.

Gary and Kaitlin welcomed their baby girl, Katherine Lange, into the world on September 11, 2017, at 11:56 p.m. Her birth brought untold joy, but it also signaled the start of an endless series of tests and trials for the new parents.

The Little Warrior

When Katherine turned four days old, she underwent her first surgery. The little warrior fought for her life and was on oxygen support for some time before her second surgery at four months. Gary said: “Katherine is the bravest little girl, taking everything like a champ.”

It was heartbreaking for the new parents to watch their daughter go through multiple medical procedures, but they refused to give up. They relocated cities in order to provide Katherine with the best medical care possible.

Gary worked as an Uber driver, while Kaitlin stayed home to look after their little angel. Despite going through the worst, the couple stayed strong and did what the doctors told them.

On September 11, 2022, Katherine turned five years old, but not a day went by when she didn’t make her friends and family smile. She can now almost live like other kids her age but isn’t entirely out of danger. Gary told FOX 13 News:

“She can have a heart attack at any time. She could have a stroke at any time.”

“She’s five years old. She’s been through so much in life already,” Gary said. He revealed that Katherine’s condition had now affected her liver. The doctors had told them if the medicines didn’t work, Katherine would need a liver and heart transplant.

At just 5 years old, Katherine Lange has endured three open-heart surgeries, almost 40 blood tests, nearly 10 heart catheterizations and several hospital stints. 

“She fights every day,” he added. “She fights every day to run with her friends.”

As of now, Gary said his daughter seems to comprehend her condition. “I think she does understand more than what she lets on,” he continued. 

Despite Katherine’s day-to-day struggles, Lange describes his daughter as loving, caring and free-spirited.

“She’s very caring, very empathetic and she loves people. Anytime she sees someone sick, she’s really concerned about them,” Lange said. “She’s 5 years old. She’s been through so much in life already, but that doesn’t stop her from caring about other people and being the best human being she can be.”