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From congenital heart disease to Broadway dreams

A young girl born with congenital heart disease has already beat the odds, now she has dreams of being a Broadway star.
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Posted at 10:41 PM, Aug 05, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — Isabella Gosnell was born with congenital heart disease, she has a double-outlet right ventricle with transposition and complex ventricular defect.

At birth, both Isabella's pulmonary artery and aorta were pumping from the right ventricle, and she had a hole between the lower heart chambers, resulting in low oxygen levels.

It took three highly complicated surgeries to fix Gosnell’s heart, which happened when she was just a baby and a toddler.

However, the surgeries were a success and Gosnell began to grow into a happy young girl. Her cardiologist, Dr. Anil Kumar, told her mother Debra that she always entered his clinic dancing, and that she should put her in dance classes for cardiac health and social development.

For the past eleven years, Dr. Kumar and Isabella have only seen each other within the hospital walls.

“She went through a lot when she was young, I think much more than she, she still has heart issues,” Kumar said. “She was born with fairly complex heart defect. You know, you just don't know why that happens, it is just one of those birth defects, and hers was unfortunately quite complex.”

Born with congenital heart disease, Gosnell’s condition made even the most basic function of life, like breathing and eating, extremely difficult.

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“For a long time, I thought that, hey, I have congenital heart disease and I am different and that I should not tell anyone because they are not going to want to be friends with me or anything. But, if anything it makes you stronger,” Gosnell said.

Strong she is.

This 11-year-old is not letting her medical condition keep her out of the spotlight as she follows her dreams and her heart.

“I am not normal, I do have heart disease,” Gosnell said.

And it is on the stage where Gosnell feels at her absolute best.

“It is the freeness of it because when you perform, you are not yourself, you are a different character, you can let go of your issues and worries and just be you,” she explained. “It is really nice to see people's reactions, you never know what you will expect and it is really nice to see the gratitude and smiles of people.”

Gosnell is currently starring in The Sound of Music, playing the role of Brigitta Von Trapp at Beef and Boards in Indianapolis. And on a recent night, a special guest sat in awe of the young girl he helped save nearly a decade ago.

“She is a great example of overcoming adversity,” Kumar said. “She was born with a very difficult heart condition and she has had to go through multiple surgeries to try to fix this and she has tried to reach this stage where she can sing and dance so well and her future is very bright. I am so proud of her doing so well in this.”

Gosnell’s doctor, who she now only has to see once a year, beamed with joy to see Gosnell doing what she loves with few limitations.

“I do really want to do this as a full-time career for the rest of my life, it's what I do,” Gosnell said.

This is all thanks to the important role his job played to get this young performer to the stage.

“I am so privileged to watch her performance today, I must thank her for the great show that she put on,” Kumar said.

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Gosnell is performing at Beef and Boards until August 15. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here.