Hannah Dargie's Story of Heart

When Hannah Dargie was born on December 29, 2002, doctors discovered she was unable to breathe on her own. After the natural fear that would come over any parent following such a realization, it had been determined she had congenital heart disease. CHD is a semi-common birth defect in which the newborn’s heart has formed abnormally and requires immediate attention. Web MD states half of those who are stricken with CHD die within five years, while ninety percent of babies with severe cases are unable to live beyond one year.

In Hannah’s case, doctors knew open-heart surgery would be required, but wanted to delay the procedure as long as possible to insure she could gain as much strength and size as possible before having to endure the surgery. When she was four months old, Hannah developed a significant respiratory virus that needed urgent attention. Hannah was taken to a hospital in Indianapolis under a code blue. Hannah would be kept there for two months under the doctors’ care before they had no choice but to perform the open-heart surgery when she was six months old. At this point, Hannah needed too much medical help to properly function unless getting the surgery that day.

Doctors patched a hole in the lower two sections of her heart and opened a vein running from the bottom to the top of her heart. Whenever Hannah was under stress or exerting more energy than she could take, her heart would begin to bounce back and forth. Unfortunately, the vein in the now sixteen-year-old Hannah is beginning to fail and she will be due back for another surgery on her heart within the next few years. The harder she works, the sooner the surgery will be required. For that reason, Hannah is permitted to use a golf cart when playing on the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour. It is among some of the necessities she and her family utilize in order to keep Hannah as healthy as possible while living a full life.

“When we go to a zoo or amusement park, we make sure Hannah has a wheelchair or motorized scooter to use,” Hannah’s mother, Erin Dargie said. “Normal teens can go strong at places like those all day, but she cannot do that without it causing a major problem. If a golf course is cart path only, we accommodate for it by bringing a push cart for her to take from the path to her ball.”

Hannah is one of five children Erin and her husband Chris have. Hannah is raised the same as her siblings Shainne, Brittany, Gracie, and Josh, except transport and any other needs are made so that Hannah’s heart is not overworked.

“Hannah has a ton of really good days,” Erin explained. “It’s just that there are days when she is exercising where from time to time, we run into a problem.”

One of those problematic days came this past summer at a Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event at Quail Chase Golf Course on June 17. It was a hot, humid, sunny day and despite using a golf cart like usual, Hannah could tell she was using more energy than she had to give.

“I was walking to my ball at one point and just felt exhausted,” Hannah described. “My vision was blurry and I was struggling to breathe. Then I just collapsed. The next thing I remember is being in an ambulance and being asked if I was okay. I was assured I was going to be all right and everything turned out totally fine. The next time I went out to play golf, I wasn’t more nervous than usual or anything like that. It’s just normal to me. Usually after I play eighteen holes, once I get in the car I fall asleep before we leave the parking lot.”

Hannah’s grandpa, along with Hannah’s dad, are big reasons why Hannah enjoys being out on the golf course. When she was five years old, she took an interest in watching her dad play golf and wanted to join in. It was not until she was in eighth grade when Hannah began to swing a golf club, but the love for golf has blossomed ever since.

“I wanted to join a sports team and golf was pretty much the only sport I could play,” Hannah said. “I really enjoy getting to spend time on the course with my dad and grandpa and I just love golfing in general.”

Recognizing Hannah’s love for the game, her mother began to research outlets allowing her to expand on ways she could play golf. The process brought Hannah to the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour along with Youth on Course. Hannah and her sister Gracie visit World of Golf in Florence regularly to take advantage of the program’s benefits on a course that does not cause much physical turmoil on Hannah.

“I saw signs on their golf carts advertising Youth on Course,” Erin said. “Since Hannah needs a cart every time she goes out, this has been extremely cost-effective for us since the green fee is only five dollars.”

While on the golf course, Hannah has found her heart is not the only form of adversity she has to overcome. On rare occasions, people have voiced their displeasure at her using a golf cart while playing. Even after explaining her circumstances, situations have arisen in which other golfers, parents or coaches demand her to walk.

“Most people are really nice about it, but at an event earlier this year an adult saw me in a cart and approached me saying I need to get out and walk,” Hannah emotionally described. “I explained I have a medical situation and he told me if I have a medical situation I should not be out there.”

“People wonder why she gets a golf cart and accuse her of having an unfair advantage,” Erin exclaimed. “Obviously she isn’t doing this on purpose. It can be embarrassing for her and that’s what causes many of her health scares when she collapses on a golf course; it’s unfair for people to make her feel self-conscious where in turn she tries to appease them and ends up risking her health.”

Despite the challenges from her heart and cynics, Hannah admirably pushes on. Now at the halfway point in her high school career at Ryle in Union, Hannah is strongly looking into attending Geneva College in Pennsylvania to study nursing. If she were to stay in the area, Thomas Moore University in Crestview Hills could be her college choice. Until then, Hannah will continue playing the game she loves with joy, pride and heart.

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Golf House Kentucky is the umbrella organization for Kentucky’s Family of Golf Organizations: Kentucky Golf Association, Kentucky PGA and Kentucky Golf Foundation. The vision of Kentucky’s golf leaders, Golf House Kentucky was founded in 1978, and is headquartered in a picturesque country setting in Louisville, Kentucky. Golf House Kentucky conducts competitions for golfers of all ages, gender and skill levels (amateur, professional and junior), and provides valuable services to Kentucky PGA professionals and member golf facilities. Working in partnership with the USGA, Golf House Kentucky provides individual golfers and member golf facilities with a wide range of services: Handicapping, USGA Course and Slope Rating, award programs, club consulting and golf management software. The family’s philanthropic affiliate, Kentucky Golf Foundation promotes the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame, Kentucky golf museum and provides grant and scholarship programs for youth in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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