Go Jim Go: Life saving surgery is performed at Le Bonheur to help Mid-South girl

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MARION, Ark. -- It's hard to imagine Alexa Shinabery not being your typical nine-year-old girl.

"I like playing with my friends and going to cheer practice," Alexa Shinabery said.

Like a lot of children, Alexa's mom, Cari Shinabery, said she can sometimes be quiet and soft-spoken.

"Alexa is more laid back....easy going child." Cari Shinabery said

But when you get her outdoors and playing with her sister, McKenzie, she's anything but quiet and laid back.

Her dad, Gill Shinabery, said she is very active, to say the least.

"She swims every day and jumps on the trampoline and bicycles and everything and as active as any 9-year-old can be," Gill said.

But turn back the clock to just a few years ago to when Alexa was born, and you'll understand how her life has been anything but typical.

"We didn't know anything was wrong with her after she was born. We thought everything was fine," Cari said.

Alexa had breathing and swallowing problems. Her pediatrician referred the family to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis.

"That's when they did some testing and discovered something was wrong with her heart, Cari said.

It was the news that would be a nightmare for any parent.

"We were very emotional, to say the least just to find out your three-month-old is going to have to have heart surgery," Gill said.

Heart surgery, to say the least, is never easy, but Alexa's surgery would pose a few more challenges.

"Her aorta was wrapped around her trachea and esophagus as she grew it would tighten and cause more problems," Cari said.

They were big problems for a little girl who would undergo surgery.

In the end, her surgery went very well.

"We expected her to stay in ICU, and we get a call saying they've already taken her off the ventilator, and we're bringing her back to the room. So, we are shocked and blown away. It's amazing.," Gill said.

The Shinabery's joy would turn to worry. Doctors said Alexa had a minor leak in her lymph ducts, and it would need to repaired, but things really got scary when Alexa had a little known allergic reaction to a medicine called Octreotide.

"It caused her blood sugar to go up to crazy high levels, and she had nearly gone into a diabetic coma," Cari said.

"They told us that you might need to kiss your daughter goodbye and as they take her through the room and learning up next to the door. She looked gray," Gill said.

Alexa would need to undergo yet another procedure.

"You are questioning in and everything at that point why is this happening? You're talking about helpless," Gill said.

The Shinabery's turned to prayer, and their prayers were answered.

"She ended up going in for the second procedure and all that. She came out with flying colors and came out ok." Cari said.

The surgery at Le Bonheur was a success. She recovered and years later this is Alexa today.

"She is great. Perfect," Gill said.

"I think it's a special place and there are a lot of special people who work there," Cari said.

Le Bonheur is a special place that saved their daughter's life and one that even has Alexa's face on the side of its building.

"Anytime we come across the bridge we say 'There's Alexa,' and we all look. It's just that heart you see it on top of the building," Cari said.

For the Shinabery's, that giant stitched heart symbolizes how Alexa's heart was fixed at Le Bonheur.

"Thank you Le Bonheur for saving my life," Alexa said.