I am Andrew and I am 11 years old. There was a time when we didn’t think I would ever see my next birthday, much less see seven or beyond. See, I was born with two rare birth defects that would go undiagnosed for the first six years of my life, keeping me in and out of hospitals. Eventually, my birth defects were diagnosed and I grew into a new outlook on life, but before that, I required two open heart chest reconstructions. I was born missing 9mm of cartilage in my bronchus, causing my airway to collapse, making it very difficult to breate. I also have a Primary Immunodeficiency, which means my immune system does not work properly and I get sick very easily. At the age of six, I underwent a slide tracheal-plasty (this was the first time the doctors performed this type of surgery on a child my age) that required cracking my chest open and putting me on a heart/lung bypass to correct my airway. I went through it like a champ, in fact, the doctors were amazed with my recovery. I did great for a while until they realized my aorta and pulmonary artery were crushing my new airway, so they had to go back in and move my aorta and pulmonary, so my repaired airway could function.

I have this scar on my chest from the surgeries, and I proudly wear it as my warrior wound. It is part of me and what I have been through. It is proof of how strong and brave I am, that I am truly the “Man of Steel”, who can overcome any obstacle and do it with a smile. I have learned so much about what real strength is, that it comes from what you overcome and how you handle your life. I know I can do anything and be anything I want. Nothing and no one will stop me.