BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A sophomore at University of Colorado Boulder has become one of the youngest national spokespeople for the American Heart Association (AHA). Nineteen-year-old Sofia Montoya was born with a rare genetic disorder that affected her hand and her heart.
She had her first surgery at one day old. Yet, Sofia never gives up. Now, she is inspiring others.
“Been here a few times?” asked CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
“Just a few times,” laughed Sofia.
Hospital halls are very familiar to the teenager. She has spent many days in Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center (PSL) and then Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC).
Sofia was born with a rare disorder called Holt-Oram syndrome.
“Where my heart is on the right side of my body, and I only have four fingers on my right hand,” she explained.
Sofia was missing a thumb, and her heart had a large hole.
“Because my intestines were all messed up,” Sofia said.
At 5 months old , Sofia had open heart surgery to fix the hole. At 6 months old, she finally went home.
At 7 years old, Sofia received a pacemaker.
“If I had to adapt I would, but then I’d keep going,” said the petite brunette.
She has kept going by doing what all kids do, including fishing and swimming. Sofia was in the marching band and was homecoming royalty.
Dr. Reginald Washington, now Chief Medical Officer of RMHC, was Sofia’s first cardiologist.
“She never felt sorry for herself, she never got depressed, she never got angry. She said ‘What do I have to do next?’ and she did it,” Washington said.
Sofia is honored to be the youngest national “Go Red for Women” spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. Her message is simple.
“You know, keep going and it will be okay in the end,” said the confident young woman.
Sofia may have been born with her heart on the wrong side, but it has always been in the right place.
Sofia talks to school children about what she’s been through, but also about the advancements in medicine since then. She is studying marketing at CU Boulder.
Her dream job is to work for her team, the Denver Broncos!