We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofKamdon Faudree

Most people live to fight, but I fight to live. You see, I have been through a lot since I was born. I was born with half a heart, so it couldn’t do what it was supposed to do. I’ve had five surgeries to keep it going, and I got a pacemaker, so I'm alive. The surgeries were really risky, because I was a newborn when I had my first one. Most went as expected, except my fourth one. The doctors told my mom to be prepared for the worst. However, look at me now! 

Also, as a result of the pacemaker, I can’t be near magnetic objects, and I can’t be part of sports or athletics. However, I've found a forgotten realm of entertainment, reading books, playing board games, the world society has left behind and replaced with technology. Ironically, technology is what saved my life. 

Anyway, back to my half-hearted life. I’ve had five heart surgeries in total. My first was when I was only two days old. My second one came faster and sooner than expected when I was four months old. My third one was right on time on my third birthday. My fourth surgery was when I was five years old. My fifth surgery to replace my pacemaker when a new, more advanced model happened when I was fourteen and in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. 

When I was born, my chances of making it to fourteen were slim. Then, the doctors weren’t sure what technology would be available to help me live. At that time, 1 in 100 babies born had either my defect or another similar, and most that we have met haven't survived. The advances in the medical field have changed so much in fourteen years and are already changing more for my future. As hard as it is to live with the defect, I also feel thankful that my family fought to find a good hospital, a good doctor, and for me to live. 

Even though I’ve been through all that, I don’t feel different.  All of this happened right when I was born, so I’ve never known what normal feels like. I’ve never known what it’s like to run a marathon, because I’ve never been able to, I’ve never known what it’s like to play sports, because I’ve never been able to, also because I’ve never been interested in sports.

One more thing: I hate it when people are all sappy for me. They treat me like I’m fragile or something and compliment me for no reason whatsoever. There is such a thing as too much positivity, you know.

© Kamdon Faudree. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.