By Josh Mitchell
Corinth Today News Editor
A Corinth girl who was born with a severe heart defect is her parents’ “rainbow.”
Hugs, playing with her sisters and nachos at McAlister’s Deli are just a few of the things that Anna Reese Henderson, 6, loves, said her mom, Melissa.
“She’s very happy,” said Melissa.
In fact, Anna Reese does not even mind going to the hospital. The family has Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital T-shirts, and Anna Reese says, “That’s my hospital.”
Anna Reese, who smiles often, has a “good sense of humor,” Melissa said.
Last week, Anna Reese was enjoying some nachos with her mom and sisters after the first day of kindergarten. She walked throughout the school day with assistance and did not need to ride in a wheelchair or be carried.
“That’s a big milestone for her actually doing the whole day walking,” said Melissa.
Anna Reese needs to hold someone’s hand to walk and can also get around by grasping chairs as she did at McAlister’s Deli. She prefers not to use a walker and instead has a toy shopping cart she likes to push around while walking.
Anna Reese’s bright smile, talking skills and all-around personality make her a joy to be around.
“She’s got a lot of fans out there . . .,” Melissa said.
Anna Reese used to attend Crossroads Learning Center where the staff loved her and now she goes to Iuka Elementary where Melissa teaches.
She was born with a condition called hypoplastic, and she has progressed farther than what was expected.
“They’re (doctors) doing a lot, but you can never fix it,” Melissa said. “You just have to live with a partial heart and abnormal circuitry.”
She is missing one of the four chambers to her heart, has abnormal blood flow and used to be a “blue baby.”
“We used to not have pink cheeks and pink lips,” Melissa said about Anna Reese.
She has had several open heart surgeries and had her first when she was 10 days old. She had a stroke after her second open heart surgery when she was four months old.
Anna Reese has also battled not getting enough blood to her left lung.
“That’s always been the problem of getting blood flow to the left lung so it can get oxygen to take to her body,” Melissa said.
Anna Reese, who is developmentally delayed, enjoys her schoolwork and even brought her homework into McAlister’s.
“You don’t want to get (cheese) on your school work,” Melissa told Anna Reese.
Anna Reese also loves music, Bible school at First Baptist Corinth and shopping for toys. While she is similar to other 6-year-olds in lots of ways, she has had unique challenges. For instance, she was on oxygen until she was 4-years-old, takes lots of medicine, gets shots regularly and has a feeding tube.
She was in the hospital almost the first full year of her life, but Anna Reese and her loved ones did not give up.
“I’m proud of anything and everything she does,” Melissa said. “We never knew what she was going to be capable of.”
And Melissa thinks Anna Reese will continue to get better. Melissa is an optimistic person who realizes people have to make the best of situations.
That’s why Melissa and her husband Daniel call Anna Reese their “rainbow.” Anna Reese is the rainbow, but the condition is the storm.
“You can’t have a rainbow without some rain,” Melissa said.