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Corinth Girl’s Heart Defect Can’t Dampen Her ‘Rainbow’ Personality

Anna Reese Henderson, left, loves going with her family to McAlister’s Deli in Corinth. Anna Reese was born with a severe heart defect and suffered a stroke, but still enjoys many things that all children do. From left are, Anna Reese, Audrey, Melissa and Liza Henderson. (Photos by Josh Mitchell/Corinth Today)

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.

Anna Reese loves smiling and having fun.


  1. Pat Hill Pat Hill August 7, 2017

    Anna Reese is certainly a little ray of sunshine.

    Such a sweetheart and God knew what he was doing when he gave her the family she has.

  2. Jason Richardson Jason Richardson August 7, 2017

    Been praying for this beautiful little gal since before she was born. She is as tough as they come and just as sweet. I just love her…

  3. Barbara Hitt Barbara Hitt August 7, 2017

    Thanks for coverage of this special little lady and her wonderful family. Anna Reese is a precious ‘rainbow’ indeed! 😍

  4. Jeanie Gordon Jeanie Gordon August 9, 2017

    What a wonderful beautiful little girl God has blessed u with. I have followed her progress and she is amazing. She will continue to amaze everyone.

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