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11-year-old Lawrence 'Swiftie' travels to Boston for life saving heart surgery

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Posted at 10:45 AM, Jun 05, 2024

LAWRENCE — Stepping into 11-year-old Lilly Greenwald's room it's obvious. This pre-teen loves Taylor Swift.

From the pictures on the walls, the pillows, and paper chain hung from her bed, her room is decked out in Taylor Swift.

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"This paper chain is my count down to the Taylor Swift concert. The words on here are all of her albums, except for her 'Tortured Poets' album, because I made this before that came out," Lilly said.

For Lilly, Swift is her escape from some of the nerve wracking things she's going through right now.

WRTV was there as the Swiftie packed her bags for summer break.

But for her break she isn't headed to a camp or the pool with friends. Instead she's headed to Boston.

Lilly is in her heart warrior era. She's headed to Boston for open heart surgery.

"It's because I have a double aortic arch around my heart and a vascular ring around my through that's squeezing it tighter and tighter," Lilly said

She's having surgery for a congenital heart defect, that she just found out about.

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Most kids find out about a CHD at birth. The CDC says it happens in about 1% of births, about 40,000 babies are born with a CHD every year.

Lilly's diagnosis came after she passed out, which has nothing to do with her condition, but it did call for extra tests.

The doctors discovered her double aortic arch.

"I thought I was normal, but I'm not normal," Greenwald said.

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Essentially she has a ring around her esophagus and trachea.

Doctors say it's causing compression, slowly chocking her to death.

They says he needs a surgery to correct it.

"I have a fear that they're stopping her heart. They're going to put her on cardiopulmonary bypass. Her heart will be stopped for like close to two hours. My fear is that it doesn't start again," Lilly's mom Stephanie Greenwald said.

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Her mom's fear is valid, but the 11-year-old's perspective is quite remarkable.

"It's okay to be scared because the doctors aren't scared because they've done this many times," Lilly said.

Like the lyrics from the Taylor Swift poster on her wall read, 'You got no reason to be afraid.'

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Lilly's 8-hour surgery was a success. Doctors were able to correct her CHD.

She still has a long road of recovery.

Their family will spend most of summer in Boston as she recovers before coming back home.

Lilly is also gearing up for the Taylor Swift concert.

"She wrote a letter and mailed it to Taylor and Travis' new house," Stephanie said.

Lilly is hoping to be picked to receive Swift's '22' hat during the concert.

Which is an iconic moment during the 'Eras Tour' when Swift gives her hat to a fan in the audience. She's known for giving them to people with incredible stories or someone random in the audience.