Kent can’t slow down

10-year-old Ellisyn Kent is immersed in summer fun after having open heart surgery in March. She's on the road to a full recovery and has been involved with dance and swimming.

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Local News

July 3, 2024 - 2:11 PM

Ellisyn Kent had open heart surgery in March. Just three months later, her summer is filled with dancing, swimming and playing with friends. Photo by Paige Olson

Ellisyn Kent is like most 10-year-olds her age. 

She loves dancing, playing with friends and when the opportunity arises, swimming.

That she’s been able to do any of that this summer has been nothing short of remarkable, her parents agreed.

Kent, who will enter the fifth grade next month, underwent open heart surgery in March after doctors noted her lifelong heart murmur had worsened.

“It was kind of a surprise for us to go in for a checkup only to find out she’s going to have surgery within three months,” mother Lavon Kent said.

The surgery took about eight hours, and had a few scary, but not unforeseen hiccups.

Fast forward barely three months later and young Ellisyn is well on the road to a full recovery.

She was released by the doctors to take part in a dance recital in late May and since then has been a steadily improving member of the Iola Seahorses Swim Team.

Ellisyn will return to the pool twice more for the Seahorses, on Wednesday for the squad’s final regular season meet, and then again a week later for a regional competition.

“I feel a lot better,” she said. “At first, I could feel myself getting stronger every second I was swimming.”

Ellisyn Kent takes a break during swim lessons with the Iola Seahorses. Courtesy photo
Ellisyn Kent attends the Taylor Swift concert in Kansas City last summer. Courtesy photo
Ellisyn Kent Courtesy photo
3 photos

ELLISYN was born with a heart murmur, later diagnosed as a mitral valve prolapse, a condition that affects the valve between the left heart chambers, in which the flaps of the mitral valve are floppy and eventually bulge backward as the heart contracts.

Doctors were aware of the condition from birth, with the consensus to monitor  it occasionally to see if it would correct itself on its own.

A regular checkup in January revealed the murmur was still there, and a closer look sparked cause for concern.

“The mitral valve was not what they were concerned with, but the aortic valve was,” explained Matthew Kent, Ellisyn’s father. “It was allowing blood to flow back into her aorta when it was supposed to be pumping it out into the body, causing dilation of her heart.”

“Her heart was enlarged,” Lavon clarified.

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