Heart survivor, family give back

METUCHEN — A local fourth-grader showed she has a lot of heart when participating as a survivor in the 2013 American Heart Association (AHA) Heart Walk.

Megan Pilla, a student at Our Lady of Peace School, Fords, held a Survivor Torch in the Oct. 27 walk in Roseland, celebrating her story of survival.

In February 2007, Megan’s pediatrician detected a heart murmur during a visit when she was 3 years old. Her diagnosis — atrial septal defect— is more commonly known as a “hole in the heart.”

By May of that year, Megan had undergone open-heart surgery at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The surgery was a success in repairing the heart defect, and Megan now enjoys great health and no restrictions to her activities.

The Pilla family donates to the hospital — where Megan continues to have annual visits with a cardiologist — as much as they are able.

The walk marked the fourth year that the Pilla family — including Megan’s sister Rosemarie, a sixth-grader at Our Lady of Peace — has participated and raised money for the AHA. The family also makes an effort to raise awareness of congenital heart defects.

Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week takes place the week of Megan’s birthday, which is Feb. 13.

According to Our Lady of Peace officials, Megan was so brave during her surgery and recovery, and has told her parents that she wants to be a heart surgeon when she grows up.